On June 24, 2021, Britney Spears delivered a heartbreaking speech to a Los Angeles court surrounding her conservatorship, which has been helmed by her father Jamie Spears since 2008. In the address to the judge, Spears called the conservatorship “abusive” and condemned her father for the 13 years of control he’s held over her life.
“I want to end this conservatorship without being evaluated,” Spears said, via the Sydney Morning Herald. “This conservatorship is doing me way more harm than good. I deserve to have a life.”
Despite the legal arrangement having been put in place during a tumultuous time in Britney’s life, it has continually restricted the entertainer access to her $60 million fortune, despite releasing countless albums, touring the world, judging a season of The X Factor and taking up a four-year residency in Las Vegas.
Read on for a timeline of Britney Spears’ conservatorship, and in particular, her father Jamie Spears’ controversial involvement.
2008: A Los Angeles Court Awards Jamie Spears A Conservatorship Over His Daughter’s Person And Estate
Jamie Spears’ control over his daughter’s life began in 2008, a time when the now 39-year-old entertainer was battling with her mental health and reported substance abuse. Many will remember this period as Britney’s “breakdown”, where she notably shaved her head and attacked a paparazzi’s car with an umbrella—all of which was documented across tabloids at the time.
From there, Britney was placed under a 5150 hold in a psychiatric hospital. “She went willingly. It was like something in her heart was telling her she should go. She knew something was wrong,” her former friend Sam Lutfi told People at the time.
Shortly after, a Los Angeles court awarded Jamie control over his daughter’s person and estate, which he says at the time was requested to be “temporary”. According to the Los Angeles Times, Jamie was given the legal right to oversee decisions about his daughter’s estate and health, including negotiating business deals and restricting who was able to see her.
2009: The #FreeBritney Movement Begins, Thanks To Site FreeBritney.net
While the #FreeBritney movement has become more prominent in recent years, it was actually begun back in 2009 when the site FreeBritney.net began questioning why Jamie’s control over the singer’s life was necessary, questions which continue today.
2019: Jamie Steps Down As Britney’s Conservator, Becomes Co-Conservator
In 2019, Britney’s father was accused of psychically abusing her son Sean, who was 14 at the time, which resulted in him stepping down as her primary conservator. Britney’s longtime “care-manager” Jodi Montgomery temporarily took over.
Despite many calls from fans for the conservatorship to be removed, Spears’ manager Larry Rudolph told The Washington Post it was beneficial to the singer. “The conservatorship is not a jail,” he said. “It helps Britney make business decisions and manage her life in ways she can’t do on her own right now.”
That same year, Jamie became ill and Britney revealed she would be taking an indefinite work hiatus and cancelled her Domination residency in Las Vegas. “I’ve been looking forward to this show and seeing all of you this year, so doing this breaks my heart. However, it’s important to always put your family first… and that’s the decision I had to make,” she wrote to Instagram at the time.
Following a stint in a mental health facility, the podcast Britney’s Gram, hosted by Tess Barker and Barbara Gray, received a voicemail from “an anonymous tip from a credible source” that reignites the #FreeBritney movement, where it was revealed that Jamie was controlling his daughter more so than the public had previously thought.
“What is happening is disturbing, to say the least,” the hosts said, per E! News. “Basically, Britney was in rehearsals for Domination. It came to Jamie’s attention that Britney was not taking her medication as prescribed. She was missing a lot of doses and just full-on not taking them,” the unidentified voice claims. “So they got her to the doctor and the doctor said, ‘OK, if you don’t want these medications, let’s get you on a new one.’ She refused to take the new one. Jamie said, ‘Either you take this medication or the show’s off, and I’m pulling my support and you can’t do it.’ Britney did not follow Jamie’s instructions, so he was true to his word—he pulled the show, he verbatim said, ‘Blame it on my illness.’ He even claimed that Britney did not willingly enter the wellness facility.”
Jamie Spears later condemned the movement, telling the New York Post it was a “joke”. He told the outlet: “All these conspiracy theorists don’t know anything. The world don’t have a clue. It’s up to the court of California to decide what’s best for my daughter. It’s no one else’s business.”
Eventually, Britney, Jamie and her mother Lynne, all appear before a court to discuss the conservatorship, where the judge ordered an expert evaluation of the situation.
2020: Britney Asks The Court To Remove Jamie From Her Conservatorship, Which Is Denied
Following a closed hearing, a judge declined the singer’s request to have Jamie removed from the conservatorship.
At the time, Britney’s lawyer Samuel Ingham III told the judge Britney was “afraid” of her father” and would continue to not perform until he was removed as conservator.
In December, it was ruled that her conservatorship would be extended through to September 2021.
“I love my daughter and I miss her very much. When a family member needs special care and protection, families need to step up, as I have done for the last 12-plus years, to safeguard, protect and continue to love Britney unconditionally,” her father, Jamie, said following the ruling. “I have and will continue to provide unwavering love and fierce protection against those with self-serving interests and those who seek to harm her or my family.”
2021: The Framing Britney Documentary Reignites Fan Involvement In The Case
After the release of the New York Times documentary, Framing Britney, fans and the media began to reevaluate how the singer had been treated in her public life.
The doco caused such a social media stir, Britney’s boyfriend Sam Asghari, was forced to speak out about her father.
“Now it’s important for people to understand that I have zero respect for someone trying to control our relationship and constantly throwing obstacles our way,” he wrote. “In my opinion, Jamie is a total dick. I won’t be going into details because I’ve always respected our privacy but at the same time, I didn’t come to this country to not be able to express my opinion and freedom.”
After much negative attention, Jamie’s attorney Vivan Lee Thoreen released a statement to CNN on his behalf, claiming Jamie wanted nothing more than for the conservatorship “to end”.
“[Jamie] would love nothing more than to see Britney not need a conservatorship,” the statement said. “Whether or not there is an end to the conservatorship really depends on Britney. If she wants to end her conservatorship, she can file a petition to end it.”
Finally, Spears speaks to the court herself in an open hearing that reveals just how much control Jamie has over her life.
“I was told right now in the conservatorship I’m not allowed to get married or have a baby, I have an [IUD] inside myself right now so I don’t get pregnant,” she told the court. “All I want is to own my money and for this to end and for my boyfriend [Sam Asghari] to be able to drive me in his car.”