LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge has suspended Britney Spears’ father from the conservatorship that has controlled the singer’s life and money for 13 years.
Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny agreed with a petition from Spears and her attorney, Mathew Rosengart, that James Spears needs to give up his role as conservator. The move is a major victory for the singer, who pleaded in dramatic hearings in June and July that her father needed to be out.
James Spears sought the conservatorship in 2008 and had been its primary controller and biggest champion. He reversed course in recent weeks, asking the judge to end the conservatorship.
Britney Spears and Rosengart agreed that the conservatorship should end and said in court documents that James Spears’ removal was a necessary first step.
Hours before the hearing, a major street outside the courthouse was closed to vehicles, allowing about 100 Spears supporters to march and host a rally where they shouted “Hey, hey, ho, ho, the conservatorship has got to go!” and other pro-Britney chants. As the crowd grew, fans sang Spears hits “Toxic” and “Baby One More Time,” and speakers described abusive conservatorships that had affected their families.
“We’re making making history right now,” said Martino Odeh, 27, who traveled from Phoenix to be at the courthouse. “And the fact that we could change a pop star’s life, who has been robbed of her rights for 13 years, is crazy. It’s monumental.”
Spears’ attorney Mathew Rosengart had been aggressively pushing for the ouster of her father, James Spears, since moments after Penny allowed her to hire Rosengart in July. Penny denied Rosengart’s request for an emergency hearing on the issue, telling the attorney it could wait until Wednesday.
And in a major reversal, James Spears, who first sought the conservatorship in 2008 and had been its primary overseer, filed a petition to end it altogether.
Britney Spears and Rosengart said in a subsequent filing that they agreed with her father that the conservatorship should end, marking the first time she had called for an end to the arrangement in court documents.
They emphasized, however, that it was more important to her that her father be removed, calling it a necessary first step toward her freedom and “ending the Kafkaesque nightmare imposed upon her.”
Rosengart said in another filing this week that James Spears “crossed unfathomable lines” by engaging in illegal surveillance of her, including communications with her lawyer, as reported in “Controlling Britney Spears,” a documentary from The New York Times and the FX network, one of two dueling documentaries released on the eve of the hearing.
Britney Spears was also engaged to her longtime boyfriend, Sam Asghari, earlier this month, which means putting together a prenuptial agreement that her father should not be involved in, her court filings said.
James Spears in 2019 stepped aside as the so-called conservator of his daughter’s person, with control over her life decisions, maintaining only his role as conservator of her estate, with control over her finances. He and his attorneys have said that rendered many of his daughter’s complaints about his control over her life meaningless.
James Spears has denied acting in anything but his daughter’s best interest and has declined Rosengart’s demands that he resign immediately. He has said in court papers that he does not know of “a single medical professional nor the report of a single probate investigator” that concluded that his presence as conservator was harming his daughter or that he should be replaced.
The conservatorship was established in 2008 when Britney Spears’ began to have public mental struggles as hordes of paparazzi aggressively followed her everywhere and she lost custody of her children.