In early September 2019, Britney Spears' dad, Jamie Spears, stepped down as her conservator after 11 years in the role. He had been named permanent conservator over her finances and daily life as well as co-conservator over her estate. A judge approved a change of conservatorship to the Vegas entertainer's care manager, Jodi Montgomery, to take over temporarily for Jamie, who suffered a life-threatening colon rupture in November 2018.
The singer's conservatorship was established so long ago, you'd be forgiven for forgetting why Britney originally needed a conservator in the first place. However, some recent changes may finally alter the state of her agreement. So, here's a complete overview of what led to the legal arrangement as well as the latest updates on it.
Britney Spears had a public breakdown in 2006.
In late 2006, Britney filed for divorce from Kevin Federline, the father of Britney's sons, Sean and Jayden, and suffered a very public breakdown over the several months following. She spent a month in rehab after two failed attempts, got into altercations with paparazzi, and shaved off her hair.
Though Brit was initially granted joint custody of Sean and Jayden, a judge ultimately granted Kevin sole physical custody due to several incidents that suggested the troubled singer was not capable of taking care of herself, let alone her boys.
With a combination of substance abuse and emotional distress over having to return her son to his father, she locked herself in a bathroom with Jayden and ultimately was hospitalized under a 72-hour involuntary psychiatric hold called a 5150, though she was released after one day.
Unfortunately, that would not be the end of Britney's need for emergency psychiatric care. She was readmitted under a second 5150 on Jan. 31, 2008, and the next day, her father was made her co-conservator along with her attorney, Andrew Wallet. Her visitation rights with the boys were also suspended.
Why did Jamie step down as Britney's conservator temporarily?
Though Britney initially tried to fight the conservatorship in court, as she began to get a better handle on her mental health, she seemed to adjust well to the arrangement. Her once-adversarial relationship with her dad also grew stronger over the years and until recently, things seemed to be going so well that there was allegedly talk of dissolving the conservatorship.
In April of 2019, Britney checked into an "all-encompassing wellness treatment" facility for unspecified reasons. Brit and sources close to her all said the move was not to address a dramatic or immediate need but simply to "make sure to take time to care for herself" and deal with some of the stress surrounding her father's convalescence.
Prior to embarking on the wellness retreat, Britney had canceled her Vegas stage show, Domination, citing her need to spend time with her family, especially her ailing father.
While the family's official story on why Jamie stepped down is health-related, that doesn't seem to be the full story.
According to TMZ, the decision stems from an alleged physical abuse incident involving Britney's son Jayden. Kevin Federline reported his ex-father-in-law to authorities and was granted a restraining order barring Jamie from having contact with Sean and Jayden. Since part of his conservatorship responsibility involves tending to the welfare of his grandsons, that likely excludes him for the time being.
And it's probable that having Jamie step down was a condition for Britney maintaining her current custody rights. (She and Kevin currently have a 70-30 split, with Kevin having primary custody.) It sounds like Britney's mom is also not happy with how her ex has been managing Britney's medical care.
Jamie came back as co-conservator alongside the Bessemer Trust amidst controversy.
While Jodi being temporary co-conservator of Britney eventually came to an end once Jamie got his health back on track, the saga continued with his fight in court.
People reported that on Feb. 4, 2021, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny ruled that Bessemer Trust, a wealth management and investment advisory firm based out of California, will continue to be co-conservators along with Jamie — despite him wanting sole conservatorship.
While Jamie's lawyer, Vivian Thoreen, brought up various objections to how the conservatorship would be delegated, the courts ruled against them.
As we all know, that was a big win for Britney. Her attorney, Samuel D. Ingham III, initially filed to remove the star's father as a conservator in August 2020. During a hearing on the matter in November, Ingham said Britney was "afraid" of her father. The judge ruled to keep Jamie Spears as conservator and appointed Bessemer Trust to act as co-conservator of her $60 million estate.
Variety reported that Ingham argued in court that the original proposal of co-conservatorship was to give Bessemer and Jamie "an equal division of responsibility, in the hopes that they would sit down and figure out together the best way to handle this complex estate for the benefit of my client."
"It's no secret that my client does not want her father as co-conservator, but we recognize that removal is a separate issue," Ingham said.
The singer's attorney filed to make Jodi Montgomery her permanent conservator.
After a long uphill battle, it seems as though Britney's legal team feels they're in a position to move for the star's conservator to change. Amidst cries for the agreement to end outright, Samuel is looking to do what he can to remove Britney's father from the picture entirely. Elevating her status from co-conservator, Jodi is poised to take over control of all of Britney's assets.
Britney finally was given a chance to speak to the courts herself.
One of the biggest issues Britney's fans have had with her conservatorship is that she doesn't seem to have a voice in what's going on in her life. But she was finally given the chance to speak up for herself publicly.
In April 2021, Judge Brenda Penny scheduled a hearing on June 23 for Britney to talk about the “status of the conservatorship,” according to Variety. That time finally came and Britney was able to voice her opinion on it all.
Britney started off her statement, per Variety, by saying she felt like the courts had ignored her in the past. "I will be honest with you. I haven’t been back to court in a long time, because I don’t think I was heard on any level when I came to court the last time," she said.
In highlighting her grievances against her conservatorship, Britney said they only gave her two options for therapists that that her team wants her to "work and stay home instead of having longer vacations." She also said, "It also took a year, during COVID, to get me any self-care methods."
But Britney's next admission was likely the most shocking of them all and a clear violation of her autonomy as a woman.
She shockingly admitted, "I have a (IUD) inside of myself right now so I don’t get pregnant. I wanted to take the (IUD) out so I could start trying to have another baby. But this so-called team won’t let me go to the doctor to take it out because they don’t want me to have children — any more children."
Britney argued for her freedom from the conservatorship because she feels she deserves "to have a life." She said, "I’ve worked my whole life. I deserve to have a two to three year break and just, you know, do what I want to do."
The judge commended Britney's bravery for speaking out in her own defense, and now it's only a matter of time before we see how her account affects the course of the case.