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What happened to Britney Spears? Full and updated conservatorship timeline

Singer’s father will step down as her conservator ‘when the time is right’ in latest development

Isobel Lewis,Annabel Nugent
Wednesday 29 September 2021 14:49
Britney Spears posts about Freedom on Instagram as father announces he will step down from conservatorship
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On 6 September, Britney Spears’s father filed a court petition to step down as conservator of the pop star’s estate.

In the filing, Jamie Spears’s legal team said: “Recent events related to this conservatorship have called into question whether circumstances have changed to such an extent that grounds for establishment of a conservatorship may no longer exist.”

The filing observed that the “Oops I Did It Again” hitmaker sought “to live her life as she chooses without the constraints of a conservator or court proceeding”, including in making her own financial, personal and medical decisions.

Reiterating that he only wants the best for his daughter, Jamie said if the “Gimme More” hitmaker believes “she can handle her own life”, she should get the chance.

The Grammy winner’s lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, said in a statement to The Independent that the development was a “massive legal victory for Britney Spears” and “vindication”.

This court filing is the most recent development in the singer’s long-standing, bitter legal battle to have her father removed as conservator of her finances and estate.

The “Toxic” singer has been under a legal guardianship since 2008, with her father and other legal guardians controlling her finances and personal life for the past 13 years.

However, Spears has shown resistance to the situation in recent years, with her lawyers stating that she wants the conservatorship to change and her father to be removed from it.

 On 23 June, Spears delivered a powerful and emotional statement to the court, speaking out for the first time of her experience under the situation and calling for those involved to be “put in jail”.

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Here’s a timeline of Spears’s conservatorship so far...

January 2007

Amid her divorce from Kevin Federline, Spears spends one day in rehab in Antigua. The next day, she infamously shaves her head at a salon and admits herself to a treatment facility in the coming weeks.

October 2007

Having split from ex-husband Kevin Federline the year before, Spears loses custody of her two sons to him. The reasons for the court ruling are not made public, but Federline claims that Spears has been behaving erratically and abusing substances.

January 2008

Spears is involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital for a second time. Her father Jamie Spears and attorney Andrew Wallet are granted temporary conservatorship the following month.

October 2008

Spears on stage in 2008

Spears’s conservatorship is extended indefinitely, with a judge citing the complexity of her financial situation and stating that she is “susceptible to undue influence”.

November 2008

MTV releases the documentary Britney: For the Record, in which the singer compares her circumstances to a jail sentence with no end.

September 2016

Spears has released three albums – Femme Fatale (2011), Britney Jean (2013), Glory (2016) – with little public attention on her conservatorship. However, reports emerge that while filming The Jonathan Ross Show, the singer allegedly told the presenter about the conservatorship, saying: “I’ve been under this conservatorship for three years and I felt like a lot of decisions were made for me.” However, the rumoured comments do not air with the show.

January 2019

The singer is due to begin a new Las Vegas residency off the back of another, but instead announces an “indefinite work hiatus”, citing her father’s health after he “almost died” in hospital.

“It’s important to always put your family first… and that’s the decision I had to make,” she writes. “I had to make the difficult decision to put my full focus and energy on my family at this time. I hope you all can understand.”

March 2019

Andrew Wallet voluntarily resigns as Spears’s co-conservator, making Jamie the sole conservator. Over a year later, he asks to be reinstated, but the singer’s lawyers state he is “uniquely unsuitable” for the role. Jamie eventually withdraws petition for Wallet’s reinstatement.

May 2019

Spears reportedly appears in probate court to ask the judge to ease restrictions imposed by the conservatorship and give her more freedom.

August 2019

Spears’s teenage sons are granted a restraining order against Jamie after he is allegedly involved in a “physical altercation” with one of them.

September 2019

Jamie is replaced as his daughter’s conservator by professional conservator Jodi Montgomery, while citing health reasons for his temporary removal from managing her personal life. He still oversees her finances.

Performing in 2018

July 2020

Spears’s brother Bryan claims on a podcast that Spears has wanted the conservatorship to end for “quite some time”, adding: “She’s always wanted to get out of it.”

August 2020

Jamie calls the #FreeBritney movement a “conspiracy theory” and a “joke”.

Later that month, legal documents show that Spears is attempting to remove her father from her conservatorship, saying that she is “strongly opposed” to him returning to control of her personal affairs.

September 2020

The singer’s lawyers file an objection to the conservatorship case being closed off from the public, stating: “The world is watching.”

November 2020

Judge Brenca Penny does not remove Jamie as Spears’s conservator, but appoints the Bessemer Trust as a co-conservator.

February 2021

The New York Times’s Framing Britney Spears documentary is released, sparking public conversation about the treatment of Spears and other celebrities by the tabloids in the 2000s and reigniting interest in the #FreeBritney fan campaign.

Spears’s boyfriend Sam Asghari writes on Instagram that Jamie is a “total d***” who tried to control their relationship.

The singer and boyfriend Sam Asghari

March 2021

Spears’s lawyers formally ask Jamie to resign from his role as conservator. Their statement also claims that Spears “expressly reserves the right to petition for termination of this conservatorship”.

Jamie’s lawyers claim that the performer can end the conservatorship at “any time” but has chosen not to.

Spears says in a since-deleted Instagram post that she felt “embarrassed” watching the beginning of Framing Britney Spears and cried for two weeks after it.

April 2021

Spears’s attorney Ingham says the singer wants to schedule a status hearing “on an expedited basis” in order to address the court directly. The date of 23 June is set and while no details of what she intends to say are revealed, the lawyer says it will pertain to the “status of the conservatorship”.

June 2021

Britney Spears addressed a Los Angeles courtroom on 23 June for the first time in 13 years of the conservatorship.

Spears took part in the hearing remotely and spoke to Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny for 24 minutes. Among the claims made were the allegation that she was forced to consume medications after declining to work, and that she wished to have another child but wasn’t permitted to by her “team”.

“The main reason why I’m here is that I want to end the conservatorship without having to be evaluated,” Spears said.

“I deserve to have the same rights as anybody does, by having a child, a family, any of those things, and more so.”

The Grammy Award-winner made a number of claims during her testimony, including that she was forced to take lithium after she announced that she was taking a break from live performances.The 39-year-old also revealed that she would like to have another baby but that her conservators allegedly won’t allow her to go to the doctor to have her IUD removed.“I feel ganged up on. I feel bullied and I feel left out and alone,” she told the court.

August 2021

Jamie Spears agreed to step down as her conservator “when the time is right”, according to court filings from his lawyers.

He “intends to work with the Court and his daughter’s new attorney to prepare for an orderly transition to a new conservator”, TMZ first reported on Thursday, 12 August, citing new legal documents.

According to the publication, the new documents state in part that “there are, in fact, no actual grounds for suspending or removing Mr Spears as the conservator of the estate... and it is highly debatable whether a change in conservator at this time would be in Ms Spears’s best interests”.

The singer’s lawyer Mathew Rosengart told the website “we are pleased but not necessarily surprised” by the development.

Jamie Spears has previously argued that the conservatorship was necessary and said in a filing earlier this month he has “dutifully and faithfully served as the conservator of his daughter’s estate without any blemishes on his record”.

Fans and friends celebrated the development, with Paris Hilton writing on Twitter: “I’m so happy to hear this news. It’s been so long overdue but I’m so glad that Britney is on her way to finally being free. Sending so much love!”

September 2021

Jamie Spears’s legal team filed a petition in the Los Angeles Superior Court to step down as conservator.

In the legal documents, he cited the “Toxic” singer’s “impassioned plea” in two separate instances in June and July to the court to terminate the 13-year-long conservatorship.

“As Mr Spears has said again and again, all he wants is what is best for his daughter,” the document said. “If Ms Spears wants to terminate the conservatorship and believes that she can handle her own life, Mr Spears believes that she should get that chance.”

The pop star’s lawyer Mathew Rosengart said in a statement to The Independent: “Having exposed his misconduct and improper plan to hold his daughter hostage by trying to extract a multi-million-dollar settlement, Mr Spears has now effectively surrendered.”

This court filing comes days after Rosengart alleged that Jamie was seeking $2m in exchange for stepping away from the conservatorship agreement that the “Oops I Did It Again” singer called “f****** cruelty” in Judge Brenda Penny’s courtroom in July.

Later in the month, a follow-up documentary to Framing Britney Spears, titled Controlling Britney Spears, was released.

It contains multiple new allegations, including that Jamie placed surveillance equipment in Britney’s room to listen to her conversations. It also alleges he had access to her calls and messages.

In response, Britney’s lawyer accused Jamie of “horrifying and unconscionable invasions of his adult daughter’s privacy”, calling for his immediate removal from her conservatorship.

Jamie’s lawyer said that Britney or a representative for her had been aware of the recordings.

What is next?

Judge Penny was scheduled to hear Britney’s petition to remove Jamie as her court-appointed legal guardian on 29 September.

Following this unexpected turn in the conservatorship saga, Judge Penny will now have to approve Jamie’s petition asking to be removed as his daughter’s conservator.

When he was appointed, Rosengart filed a petition to appoint Jason Rubin as the singer’s conservator, replacing Jamie. Rubin has practiced as a forensic accountant and consulting expert since 1993. He is the president of Certified Strategies, a company that deals with conservatorships. You can find out more information on what is expected to happen next here.

If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, Samaritans offers support. You can speak to someone in confidence over the phone on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website here.

If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Helpline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.