Updated 8 September: Britney Spears’ lawyer is calling her father’s decision to petition to end her conservatorship a “massive legal victory.”
On 7 September, Jamie Spears filed a court petition to end his daughter’s 13-year conservatorship, following a months-long legal battle in the Los Angeles Superior Court and many more years of private struggle away from the public eye.
The document states that Britney’s circumstances have changed “to such an extent that grounds for establishment of a conservatorship may no longer exist.”
According to Associated Press, the petition maintains that Jamie acted in Britney’s best interests throughout the last 15 years of her conservatorship: “As Mr. Spears has said again and again, all he wants is what is best for his daughter. “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.”
However, in a statement obtained by People, Britney’s lawyer Mathew Rosengart said that Jamie Spears’ filing also represents “vindication.”
“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. There is no settlement,” Rosengart said. “To the extent Mr. Spears believes he can try to avoid accountability and justice, including sitting for a sworn deposition and answering other discovery under oath, he is incorrect and our investigation into financial mismanagement and other issues will continue.”
Mr Spears had first agreed to step down as his daughter’s long-time conservator on 12 August, but called for an “orderly transition” and resolution of court matters before doing so. Following the petition, a judge in Los Angeles will need to approve the termination of the complex legal agreement and assess whether Britney is deemed capable of looking after herself without interference from the court,
Updated 13 August: After more than a year of fighting in court, and many more years behind the scenes, there has been a key development in Britney Spears’ conservatorship battle with her father.
Jamie Spears has agreed to eventually step aside from his long-running role overseeing the singer’s finances as part of the unique conservatorship that has governed her life since 2008.
As The New York Times reports, initially, Mr. Spears objected to the request and defended his work on behalf of his daughter. But in a new filing in Los Angeles probate court on Thursday, lawyers for Mr. Spears said that, while there were “no actual grounds for suspending or removing” Mr. Spears, and that he intended to work with the court to assure “an orderly transition to a new conservator.”
However, there is not yet a timeline for when his removal will begin, or be finalised. The legal team representing Mr. Spears maintains that there are “no urgent circumstances” justifying his immediate suspension, but that “he would be in position to step aside after resolving outstanding matters including financial accounting for the conservatorship in recent years.”
“Jamie did not resign, but the petition filed is still a win. This is the FIRST time we have seen any court documents even entertaining the idea of an exit. This is a power struggle. Every inch Jamie is pushed closer to relinquishing control is a win for Britney,” one fan noted on Twitter.
Director of Framing Britney Spears, Samantha Stark, also shared her support on social media, but equally stressed: “Britney Spears’s father said he is willing to step aside… “when the time is right.” His lawyers gave no timeframe for when this might happen.”
Regardless, this is undoubtedly an important step in Britney’s battle against the 13-year conservatorship that has seen her unable to control her own finances, get married or have more children.
Updated 1 July: It’s been an unjust week for women around the world, with news of Bill Crosby’s sexual assault conviction being overturned and Britney Spears losing the legal fight to remove her father from her conservatorship.
As reported by the BBC on 1 July, a US judge has denied the pop star’s request to end Jamie Spears’ control of her estate. It comes a week after she made an emotional 23-minute testimony, detailing how her life has been controlled by the conservatorship to the point of being told she is “not able to get married or have a baby”.
Spears added: “I can’t sleep, I’m depressed, I cry every day.”
So, what now?
Although today’s ruling is a blow to the Free Britney movement, it’s important to note that it is not a response to the testimony. As per the BBC report, the judge cannot make a ruling based on Spears’ statement “until she files a formal petition to terminate the arrangement”.
The documents filed for this specific ruling only refer to the original request that Spears made last November. She had asked for the Bessemer Trust, a private wealth management firm, to be appointed as her “sole conservator”. Although the judge refused to remove Spears’ dad from his position, he did agree to the Bessemer Trust’s role as co-conservator of the multi-million dollar estate.
Alongside this, Jamie Spears’ lawyers have now asked the court to investigate the star’s claims of abuse.
This all means that the fight is not over yet. But right now, people are asserting the parallels between Cosby being granted his freedom while Spears has been denied hers.
“Britney isn’t free, Cosby is… feels so icky,” tweeted comedian and actor Sindhu Vee.
“Women are having their autonomy denied everywhere and it makes me sick. #FreeBritney,” added director and podcaster Kelechi Okafor.
“I know its not as simple as this, but Bill is out, and Britney stays in? Heartbreaking,” said Derry Girls actor Siobhán McSweeney.
And leader of the Women’s Equality Party, Mandu Reid, wrote: “Britney is being abused and exploited by the people around her who feel greedily entitled to her fantastic wealth. This court decision is enabling that to continue and sets a dangerous and damaging precedent – legitimising the erosion of female autonomy.”
We now just need to wait and see if Spears will file the formal petition.
Additional reporting: Amy Beecham/ Images: Getty