Britney Spears freed from conservatorship after 13 years
Britney Spears poses at the premiere of “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood” in Los Angeles, California, July 22, 2019.
Mario Anzuoni | Reuters
Britney Spears’ conservatorship is over, a judge ruled Friday.
The 39-year-old pop star has been under legal guardianship for 13 years after publicly dealing with mental health issues that came to a head in 2008. Spears has been trying to end her conservatorship for more than a year in order to regain her independence and have a say in her medical care.
“The court finds the conservatorship of Britney Jean Spears is no longer required,” said Judge Brenda Penny during a court hearing Friday.
The hearing took 31 minutes and Spears did not appear by phone or video, according to NBC.
In recent months, Spears has been permitted to hire her own attorney — Hollywood lawyer Mathew Rosengart — and petitioned to have a certified public accountant take over control of her conservatorship after levying abuse claims against her father James Spears.
James Spears has publicly denied these accusations. In late September, Penny suspended James Spears as his daughter’s guardian and named California accountant John Zabel as the temporary conservator of Spears’ finances. Zabel will remain in place temporarily to help Spears with any lingering financial issues.
Penny called the situation “toxic” and “not tenable” before suspending James Spears from his post.
“What’s next for Britney, and this is the first time this could be said for about a decade, is up to one person: Britney,” Rosengart told reporters during a press conference after the hearing.
Earlier this summer, it was unclear if Spears would be granted freedom from her conservatorship, but a whirlwind of emotional personal testimony from the pop star coupled with several damning documentaries pushed the #FreeBritney movement further into the public eye. Fans have gathered outside the Los Angeles-based courthouse during each hearing waving banners of support for the pop star.
When James Spears encountered health issues in 2019, Jodi Montgomery, a licensed private fiduciary, was appointed in a temporary role within the conservatorship. Montgomery has reportedly developed a care plan with therapists and doctors that will guide Spears through the end of her conservatorship and beyond.
There could be more courtroom battles in Spears’ future, however. Rosengart has vowed to pursue an investigation of James Spears’ role in the conservatorship, including how he handled Spears’ finances and allegations that he placed a listening device placed in the pop star’s bedroom.
“Many people have asked about whether we will continue to investigate Mr. Spears,” Rosengart said. “The answer ultimately is up to my client Britney.”
James Spears recently hired Alex Weingarten, a partner within the litigation department at Willkie Farr & Gallagher, to represent him. Previously, he had been represented by Vivian Thoreen, an executive partner of Holland & Knight’s Los Angeles office.
This case has led to larger inquiries about the current conservatorship system and how it is applied and upheld, particularly when it comes to entertainment icons who continue to perform and generate millions in income for their estates, even while under court oversight.
Spears’ estate was estimated to be worth between $50 million and $60 million at the end of her conservatorship.
“I’m so proud of her. I thank her for her courage and poise and power,” Rosengart said. “She helped shine a light on conservatorships and guardianships from coast to coast.”
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