Britney Spears on Wednesday begged a Los Angeles judge to free her from a court-ordered conservatorship that has given her father Jamie control over her life and $60 million fortune for the last 13 years.
‘I want this conservatorship to end – I truly believe that this conservatorship is abusive,’ the 39 year-old pop superstar pleaded in a passionate 25-minute appeal to Judge Brenda Penny.
‘I want to be able to get married to my boyfriend and have a baby but the conservatorship told me I can’t do that.
‘I have an IUD (intrauterine device) inside me to prevent me from having a baby.
‘I want to go to a doctor and take it out so I can have a baby but they (the conservatorship) told me no.
‘I feel ganged up on and bullied and alone.’
The status hearing did not hear any petitions, meaning that a decision was not asked for. Judge Penny said that she will set a hearing as soon as possible, so that Britney can make her petition.
Britney Spears is pictured driving around her Los Angeles neighborhood on Wednesday afternoon after the dramatic conservatorship hearing. Her boyfriend Sam Asghari, 27, is in the passenger seat and a bodyguard in the back
The singer went for a drive shortly after her explosive testimony before Judge Brenda Penny
Britney Spears is pictured with her father Jamie. The pair have not spoken since August. She has been fighting since last year to lift a conservatorship that he presided over since 2008
Spears is pictured on Tuesday leaving the sheriffs’ office, ahead of the hearing
The last time Spears spoke directly to the judge was in May 2019 but the court was closed to the public and her testimony was sealed.
Details of her mental health have never been disclosed.
Britney is seen on Tuesday leaving Ventura County Sheriffs Office, the day before her hearing
Spears began her statement with: ‘I have a lot to say, so bear with me. I don’t think I was heard on any level when I came to court last time.’
Speaking about her prior music and tour commitments, Spears said she ‘is not here to be anyone’s slave.’
Speaking rapidly by audiolink with LA Superior Court – where dozens of fans and supporters gathered outside chanting ‘Free Britney’ and waving placards saying, ‘We Love You Britney’ – Spears launched an extraordinary attack on her father for his actions as her co-conservator.
Her highly-recognizable voice was still girlish, but on Wednesday is was strong, emotional and so rapid-fire that it was tough sometimes to understand her words.
At times she was tripping over her words, as though she could not wait to let out the obvious frustration and anger she feels over the conservatorship that has ‘enslaved’ her for 13 years.
Protesters gathered in Los Angeles on Wednesday ahead of the eagerly-anticipated hearing
One fan held a cardboard cutout of the 39-year-old singer and a megaphone, rallying others to the cause
Supporters of the singer had made a series of placards to wave outside the courtroom. Spears herself was not in court, but appeared via an audiolink
What is a conservatorship?
A conservatorship is a legal concept whereby a probate court appoints a person to manage an incapacitated person or minor’s financial and personal affairs.
It is often a relative.
The terminology and details vary state-by-state, but the general principals are all similar.
The conservator’s duties include overseeing finances, medical care and living arrangements.
In Britney’s case, the conservators also oversee visitation arrangements with her two teenage sons, who are under the full custody of her ex-husband, Kevin Federline.
It is most frequently used for someone who is severely mentally incapacitated, or suffering from dementia.
Yet in the 13 years of Britney’s conservatorship, she has released four albums – two of them going platinum; appeared as a judge on both The X Factor and American Idol; and had a four-year residency in Las Vegas that reportedly grossed close to $138 million.
The specific details of Britney’s case have not been revealed.
Unless a judge says otherwise, they still retain rights to make certain decisions, according to the California handbook.
They can control salaries they earn, spend an allowance, retain legal representation, vote in elections, get married, draft their own wills, make medical decisions for themselves and ask a judge to terminate conservatorships or replace their guardians.
‘All conservatees have the right to be treated with understanding and respect and to have their wishes considered. They have all basic human rights, as well, and the right to be well cared for by you,’ the California handbook says.
Britney says that she has not had these rights. It is unclear whether this is a violation of her case, or as agreed.
There are two types of conservators: a conservator of the person, who looks after meals, housekeeping, transport, housing and recreation, and a conservator of the estate who manages finances and protects assets.
Sometimes one person can play both roles.
The conservator of the estate must file periodic activities reports by the first year after their appointment and every two years following, until the relationship is terminated.
The estate managers have to disclose asset values, gains and losses, and show receipts for all expenditures of conservatorship funds. They are also prohibited from borrowing money from the conservatee or lending out their cash.
Many countries have similar systems.
In the U.K. it is called a deputyship. In Britain, however, the court will appoint an independent conservator, rather than a family member.
Her boyfriend, Sam Asghari, a 27-year-old Iranian personal trainer and actor, who she met when he starred in her 2016 video for the song Slumber Party, posted a photo to Instagram shortly before the hearing.
It showed with him in a t-shirt reading: ‘Free Britney’. He has been outspoken against her father, calling him ‘a d***’.
‘I want changes. I want changes going forward, and I deserve changes,’ she said, at the end of a moving speech to the court.
‘It’s my wish and dream for all of this to end.’
She said: ‘In California, the only similar thing to this is called sex trafficking, making anyone work against their will, taking all their possessions away credit card, cash, phone, passport.
‘The reason I’m telling you this is because I don’t think the state of California can have all this written in the court documents from the time I showed up and do absolutely nothing.’
When a doctor put her on medications, including lithium – she she said made her feel ‘drunk’.
‘My family didn’t do a thing about it. My dad was all for it,’ she said.
When she was put in a $60,000-a-month treatment facility against her will, ‘I cried on the phone to my dad for an hour and he loved every minute of it,’ she said.
She added: ‘My dad and everyone else who has played a key role in my conservatorship should be in jail. They have way too much control.
‘I don’t drink alcohol but I should, considering what they put my heart through.’
Speaking so fast she was asked twice by Judge Penny to slow down, the singer talked of being ‘enslaved’ by her father.
‘He made me feel like death, with the depth of what he did to me.
‘I want to end this conservatorship. I don’t want to be evaluated. I have had enough.
‘I don’t want to be in this stupid conservatorship any more. It’s embarrassing and humiliating.
‘I’m not lying. I just want my life back. It’s been 13 years and it’s enough. I’m done.’
The troubled singer said she was lying when she told people while she was in the mental treatment facility three years ago that she was happy.
‘When I went there they took everything away from me. They watched me change, naked every single day. I sat in a chair for 10 hours a day, seven days a week.
‘I am not happy. I can’t sleep. I’m so angry, I’m insane. I’m scared by people. I don’t trust people.
‘The conservatorship should end. What state allows people to say, ‘You can’t spend your money unless you do as we say.’
Spears also criticized her mother, Lynne, who, she said, went to spas during the pandemic.
‘But I didn’t go to the spa or have my nails done for a year.
‘My mom sees me like my dad does.’
Britney concluded: ‘I should not be in a conservatorship like this if I can work, provide for myself and provide for other people.
‘I am being told I cannot see my money unless I do what they say … and I am paying them.’
As she ended her speech, Britney told the judge: ‘I wish I could stay on the phone to you forever. Because when I go off this phone the ‘nos’ will start again. No no no.’
After her phone tirade which Judge Penny called ‘courageous,’ her attorney, Samuel Ingham told the court that Spears had not asked her to file a motion to end the conservatorship.
Spears is seen with her boyfriend Sam Asghari at the 2019 Daytime Beauty Awards in September 2019 in Los Angeles
Britney’s boyfriend shows his support
Britney Spears‘ boyfriend posed in a ‘Free Britney’ T-shirt on Instagram Wednesday, as the pop singer is expected to appear in court virtually amid her conservatorship battle with father Jamie Spears.
Support: Sam Asghari wore a ‘Free Britney’ T-shirt on Wednesday
Sam, 27, a personal trainer and actor, has previously voiced his dislike of Britney’s father, saying in February this year: ‘In my opinion, Jamie is a total d**k.’
He posted his thoughts on Instagram at the time, adding: ‘I have zero respect for someone trying to control our relationship and constantly throwing obstacles our way.’
The pair met in 2016, when the Iranian-born actor was cast in the video for her song Slumber Party.
In February, he told People: ‘I have always wanted nothing but the best for my better half, and will continue to support her following her dreams and creating the future she wants and deserves.
‘I am thankful for all of the love and support she is receiving from her fans all over the world, and I am looking forward to a normal, amazing future together.’
A month later, he told Forbes he hoped to become a father soon.
‘My priorities in life are to remain humble and understand where I came from and where I’m going. I want to take my career to the next step when it comes to acting.
‘I want to take my relationship to the next step, as well. I don’t mind becoming a father. I want to be a young dad.’
Spears has two teenage sons, 15-year-old Sean and 14-year-old Jayden, whom she shares with ex Kevin Federline. The two were married from 2004 to 2007.
‘But my client directs me to file a petition to end the conservatorship, I will do that.’
Ingham – who was appointed by the court – also said he would willingly step aside if Spears wanted to hire her own attorney, as she indicated during her address to the court.
Jamie Spears’ lawyer, Vivian Thoreen – responding to Britney’s attack on her father- told Judge Penny in a two-sentence statement that Jamie ‘is sorry to see his daughter suffering and in so much pain.
She added: ‘Mr Spears loves his daughter and misses her very much.’
Judge Penny said she wanted to schedule a new hearing to finalize next steps.
‘There is no petition before the court. A number of those items that Miss Spears brought before the court, we will be discussing, and they do require petitions,’ said Judge Penny.
Earlier, Spears was almost denied access to her own virtual court hearing on Wednesday, after a court clerk failed to recognize her voice on the phone line.
When she rang in, the court clerk was hesitant to admit her to the proceedings.
Asked to identify herself, the singer replied: ‘Oh, me? Britney Spears.’
Wednesday’s hearing drew a large and colorful crowd outside the courthouse in Los Angeles.
Waving home-made signs and placards, fans of the singer demanded that her freedom be restored.
The #FreeBritney campaign is a grassroots movement started by fans of the singer, who feel that her 13-year-long conservatorship battle should now come to an end – and that Britney should regain autonomy over her life and affairs.
On Wednesday night actress Rose McGowan – among the first to speak out against Harvey Weinstein – told Fox News that Britney’s hearing had been historic.
She said that it showed a woman trying to regain her power from an exploitative entertainment machine, and commended the singer for having the courage to speak out.
Spears, 39, has been trying for a year to fire her father as her conservator, calling him ‘obsessed’ with her and describing his influence over her business affairs as ‘oppressive.’
But Judge Penny refused last year to sack 68 year-old Jamie and instead appointed a financial services company, Bessemer Trust, to share conservatorship duties with him.
Anew report from the New York Times claims that she has been attempting to fight against the restrictions as far back as 2014.
It is claimed that she told the court that she felt forced by the conservatorship into a stay at a mental health facility and to perform against her will.
The newspaper said that a court investigator wrote in a 2016 report: ‘She articulated she feels the conservatorship has become an oppressive and controlling tool against her’.
The investigator added that Britney said the system had ‘too much control’.
Britney was not in court in person on Wednesday due to restrictions from COVID-19.
But she, Jamie, her mother Lynne Spears, 66 – who is divorced from Jamie – and a small army of attorneys representing all three Spears and the conservatorship, were live on audio or video connection with the judge during the hearing.
Her father’s lawyer, Vivian Thoreen, has argued that Jamie is only interested in helping his internationally famous daughter.
‘For over 12 years, Mr Spears has more than capably and dutifully served as the conservator of his daughter’s estate, always doing what he believed was in his daughter’s best interest,’ said Thoreen in court documents.
‘Mr Spears has performed his job well. This is a fact. He has taken the estate from being in debt and facing tens of millions of dollars of lawsuits, to a current value of well over $60 million.
‘Mr Spears did this all while also serving as conservator of the person (Britney)….and working diligently with a team of professionals to restore (Britney) to good health and revive her career as best as possible under the circumstances.’
Fans of the singer, who have for years raised concern about her wellbeing, appeared outside the courthouse in LA on Wednesday
Supporters of Britney Spears gathered outside the Stanley Mosk courthouse in Los Angeles on Wednesday as the 39-year-old singer spoke at a hearing about her conservatorship
Fans of the singer have called with increasing urgency for Britney to be released from her conservatorship, with the hashtag ‘Free Britney’. The movement has been around since 2009, but has gathered momentum in recent years with celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Rose McGowan calling for the singer’s financial autonomy to be restored
Britney Spears’ passionate fans gathered outside court in Los Angeles on Wednesday
Admirers of the singer, who exploded onto the scene in 1998 with her hit Baby One More Time, are demanding reform of the system of conservatorship
Signs outside the courthouse in Los Angeles directed fans to the gathering
Spears’ supporters held aloft placards they had made showing their support for the mother of two, who has been performing since she was a child
One man showed off artwork he had made to show his support for the Louisiana-born singer, insisting that she deserved better protection from those around her and claiming she was a prisoner
But at a court hearing last November, Ingham told the court that Britney was ‘afraid’ of her dad and would not perform again until he was no longer in charge of the conservatorship he’s been overseeing since her much-publicized breakdown in 2008.
Despite those claims from Ingham – who also accused Jamie of making questionable business decisions without consulting Britney – Judge Penny ruled that Jamie should stay on, with California-based Bessemer Trust appointed as co-conservator until at least September this year.
The judge did not rule out the possibility of eventually granting Britney’s wish to be free of her father – whose $16,000 a month salary as conservator comes out of the star’s estate.
Jamie said he has not seen Britney since August 2020.
He told CNN: ‘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.
‘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.’
Spears is seen performing at the MGM National Harbor in Maryland in July 2018, during the Piece of Me tour
Jamie claimed that he had been on good terms with Britney until her lawyer, Ingham, filed court documents last summer seeking his removal from the conservatorship. From that time, he said, communication ended between father and daughter.
Last year, at her father’s request, Spears’ conservatorship (the one dealing with her personal affairs, not the conservatorship controlling her finances) was temporarily transferred from Jamie to Jodi Montgomery.
While he blamed his temporary stepping down on health issues, Jamie’s decision came amid accusations that he had been involved in an altercation with Britney’s then 14 year-old son Sean Preston
Kevin Federline – Britney’s ex husband and the father of Sean and his brother Jayden James, 13 – made a police report and took out a restraining order against his former father-in-law after the incident.
A ‘very angry’ Jamie reportedly broke down the door of a room Sean had locked himself in, and ‘shook’ the frightened teenager.
Britney was said to be furious over what happened and worried that the incident could jeopardize the joint custody agreement she has with Federline that already gives him a much larger percentage of time with the boys than she has.
Her mother, Lynne, went to court last year – hand in hand with her anxious daughter – to try to take a bigger role in her care and support Britney’s request to Judge Penny that she be given more say in her life decisions than the conservatorship allows.
Lynne wanted the judge to grant her more access to medical records and treatment plans for Britney, who pulled out of her Las Vegas residency show Domination last year and soon afterward spent a month at a mental health facility.
At a later court hearing, Lynne’s attorney, Gladstone Jones, told the court that she agreed with Britney’s decision that Jamie should be removed as her conservator.
‘It has broken Lynne’s heart that things have come to this point’ said Jones, who added that the relationship between Britney and her father had become ‘toxic.’
Spears’ controversial conservatorship sparked the so-called #FreeBritney movement whose followers have regularly turned up in droves at the star’s LA court hearings.
The movement – along with the TV documentary Framing Britney Spears which was released last February – prompted California legislators to look at how court-ordered conservatorships are handled in the future.
Britney Spears’ dad Jamie releases statement insisting he ‘loves his daughter very much’ and is ‘sorry to see her suffering’ following bombshell hearing… after it’s revealed he now lives in RV in Louisiana after earning millions from conservatorship
Jamie Spears has issued a brief statement following his daughter’s shocking hearing in Los Angeles where she revealed details of her conservatorship.
Following Britney’s remote appearance in court, Jamie Spears’ legal team have released a statement insisting he ‘loves his daughter very much.’
They said: ‘He is sorry to see his daughter suffering and in so much pain. Mr Spears loves his daughter very much.’
Statement: Britney Spears’ father Jamie Spears has issued a brief statement following his daughter’s shocking hearing in Los Angeles where she revealed details of her conservatorship
The statement comes after a New York Times report revealed that the 68-year-old Jamie has moved back to his hometown in Kentwood, Louisiana, living in an RV.
He reportedly sold the house that Britney grew up in and he has been living in an RV that is parked at a warehouse, which contains memorabilia from his daughter’s career, just on the outskirts of Kentwood.
Jamie has been in control of his daughter’s conservatorship for the past 13 years, controlling what is believed to be a fortune of $60 million.
His daughter is only given an allowance of $2,000 per week.
Back home: The statement comes after a New York Times report revealed that the 68-year-old Jamie has moved back to his hometown in Kentwood, Louisiana, living in an RV
Controls: While he controls her fortune and reportedly lives in an RV, his daughter is only given an allowance of $2,000 per week. Britney is pictured with her sister Jamie Lynn in 2017
Britney is pictured with her younger sister, Jamie Lynn, in 2003