Britney Spears' 13-year conservatorship is finally unraveling

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Britney Spears' 13-year conservatorship is finally unraveling
Singer Britney Spears attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at the Beverly Hilton on April 12, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images
  • The #FreeBritney movement has been drawing attention to Britney Spears' conservatorship for years.
  • But after a June 23 testimony from Spears herself, things are moving fast in the legal case.
  • See a timeline of how the legal guardianship overseeing Spears' life is beginning to change.

Britney Spears has been living under a legal arrangement called a conservatorship since 2008, which grants control of her personal life and estate to a group of people that includes her father, Jamie Spears, and a financial institution called Bessemer Trust.

After a June 23 hearing, during which Spears was able to speak directly to a judge for the first time in open court, news has been piling up about the people currently in the conservatorship's inner circle.

Let's take a chronological look at everything that's happened so far immediately following the June 23 statements from Spears (which you can read more about here).

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June 23: Spears' parents both make statements in court following her bombshell testimony

Britney Spears' 13-year conservatorship is finally unraveling
Britney Spears & mother Lynn Spears during "The Four Feathers" Premiere at Mann Village Theatre in Westwood, California, in 2002. SGranitz/WireImage via Getty Images

Us Weekly reported that, during the hearing, Lynne Spears' attorney Gladstone Jones said Lynne was "a very concerned mother." Vulture also reported that Lynne requested the court have "a plan" to address Spears' wishes.

Jamie's attorney also spoke on their client's behalf, saying Spears' father was "sorry to see his daughter in so much pain," according to Vulture.

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June 29: Jamie says in a court filing he is concerned about the 'management and care of his daughter'

Spears' conservatorship is split into two functions: one overseeing her personal life and medical matters, and the other managing her financial estate. Jamie was removed from the personal aspect of the conservatorship in 2019, when a woman named Jodi Montgomery was brought on as a coconservator to take his place overseeing Spears' personal affairs. Jamie stayed on as the coconservator of Spears' financial estate, working in tandem with the Bessemer Trust company.

In documents reviewed by Insider, Jamie blamed Montgomery and Spears' court-appointed lawyer, Sam Ingham, for the allegations Spears made in the June 23 testimony.

Montgomery's reps dismissed Spears' allegations in an email statement to Insider, saying that Montgomery has been a "tireless advocate" for Spears since becoming her conservator.

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June 30: The judge formally denies Ingham's months-old request to remove Jamie as Spears' conservator

Britney Spears' 13-year conservatorship is finally unraveling
Britney Spears has long been fighting for freedom from her conservatorship and has claimed abuse by her father, Jamie. Associated Press

Judge Brenda Penny denied a November 2020 request to remove Spears' father as her conservator, ruling that Jamie and Bessemer Trust would retain equal power over the pop star's finances and person.

The paperwork processed at this point was "was solely intended for the judge to approve Bessemer Trust as the co-conservator, but also reiterates the judge's decision to not remove the elder Spears from the pop star's conservatorship," as explained by Variety.

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July 1: Bessemer Trust files to withdraw from the guardianship in light of the pop star's damning testimony

Bessemer Trust's resignation was initially effective immediately, but the paperwork (obtained by Insider) was later updated. In the court documents reviewed by Insider, Judge Penny said they would review this request at a later hearing, scheduled for July 14.

Bessemer Trust was appointed by the court to be a coconservator in November 2020, but had not yet started its duties, nor received any assets or taken any fees, according to the New York Times.

July 3: The New Yorker publishes a bombshell investigation of Spears' 13-year conservatorship

Reporters Ronan Farrow and Jia Tolentino, who had been investigating the conservatorship starting months prior to Spears' June 23 testimony, wrote that they spoke with Lynne over the phone and that she "spoke in a whisper and apologized that she might have to hang up abruptly if other family members walked in and discovered her speaking to a reporter."

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"I got mixed feelings about everything," Lynne reportedly told them. "I don't know what to think ... It's a lot of pain, a lot of worry."

The reporters also interviewed a Spears family friend, who claimed she had been "exploited" in 2008 when she was asked to provide testimony that eventually helped the conservatorship get established in the first place.

The New Yorker's investigation also said that Spears called 911 the night before her conservatorship hearing testimony to report "conservatorship abuse."

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July 5: Spears' long-time manager Larry Rudolph resigns, saying that Spears is planning to retire

Britney Spears' 13-year conservatorship is finally unraveling
Larry Rudolph had been Spears' main manager since 1996. Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

In a letter to Spears' conservators, published by Deadline, Rudolph wrote: "It has been over 2 1/2 years since Britney and I last communicated, at which time she informed me she wanted to take an indefinite work hiatus."

"As you know, I have never been a part of the conservatorship nor its operations, so I am not privy to many of these details," the letter continued. "I believe it is in Britney's best interest for me to resign from her team as my professional services are no longer needed."

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July 6: Spears' lawyer files to resign from the conservatorship

Ingham has been the court-appointed lawyer representing Spears since 2008. He is paid by her through the conservatorship, an annual salary that reportedly can reach a maximum of $520,000 - more than Spears' own living expenses, according to the New Yorker.

During her testimony, Spears claimed Ingham told her it's "not good" for the pop star to speak up about her experiences under what she called her "abusive" conservatorship. Sources told TMZ that Ingham was upset with Spears' statement in court.

On July 6, Ingham filed a petition to the court requesting permission to resign as Spears' lawyer. Judge Penny will review the request at an upcoming hearing on July 14.

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July 6: Jodi Montgomery says Spears has asked her to remain in the coconservatorship role

A representative for Montgomery told People, in a statement also shared with Insider, that Spears had asked Montgomery to be her conservator as recently as July 5.

July 6: Lynne files a petition to the court requesting that Spears be allowed to choose her own lawyer

Britney Spears' 13-year conservatorship is finally unraveling
Britney Spears. Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Attorneys for Lynne wrote, in the court filing on her behalf, that Spears has been "able to care" for herself for years and asked the court to "listen to the wishes of her daughter." Those wishes included her ability to "handpick her own lawyer by herself."

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"Her capacity is certainly different today than it was in 2008," it continued.

July 7: Montgomery asks for more security, citing a significant rise in the number of threats she's received since Spears' testimony

Montgomery said in a court filing obtained by NBC News that there had been a "marked increase in the number and severity of threatening posts" sent to her over social media, text, phone, and email since Spears' June 23 testimony.

Montgomery requested in the same court filing that Spears' conservatorship overseeing the estate foot the bill for additional security, which could cost over $1,800 per day.

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July 8: Jamie files a petition saying he is 'very concerned' about the 'dangerous rhetoric' around the conservatorship, and says Montgomery should not receive extra security

Britney Spears' 13-year conservatorship is finally unraveling
Britney Spears signing autographs in 2013. Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

Jamie's court filing, reviewed by Insider, was an opposition to Montgomery's request for additional security.

"Mr. Spears is very concerned about the situation that has been developing for many months and the dangerous rhetoric that has been circulating for quite some time regarding the conservatorship," his lawyers wrote.

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They said Jamie himself has been subject to "innumerable and ongoing threats" and said that Montgomery's request for indefinite additional security was not "reasonable, necessary, or a proper expense."

What's next?

The next conservatorship hearing is scheduled for July 14, where the judge may make a decision about Spears' ability to select her own lawyer and address the other petitions filed by Bessemer Trust, Montgomery, and Jamie and Lynne Spears. It's unlikely that the conservatorship will be ended on that date, given that a formal request would need to be filed with the court in order to end it. No such filing has been entered into the court system at the time of publishing.

It's unclear whether Spears herself will call into this hearing, though some sources report she is planning to do so. (Spears' rep didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.) But even if she does make a virtual appearance, she may or may not give another testimony this time around.

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