Britney Spears is finally free. A Los Angeles judge on Friday ruled an end to the controversial guardianship that has been in place since early 2008, ending the surveillance of two guardians who have overseen the pop star and her estate for nearly 14 years.
Judge Brenda J. Penny restored Spears her legal rights, effective immediately. It was a decision that seemed inevitable, although Penny gave no indication beforehand as to how it would fail.
The crowd of fans gathered outside the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles erupted in cheers and confetti at the news. They then sang and danced to Spears’ hit “Stronger,” shouting the lyrics: “Now there’s nothing but my path / My loneliness no longer kills me.”
“What’s next for Britney – and it’s the first time this can be said in a decade – depends on one person: Britney,” said Mathew Rosengart, the singer’s attorney at a press conference out of court. “I will say that Britney has put herself in a position where she will be successful.”
“We have a safety net for Britney, both personally and financially …” she continued. “But Britney to this day is a free woman and she is an independent woman. And the rest, with her support system, will depend on Britney. “
The singer had specifically asked that there be no mental evaluation and the judge did not require it, Rosengart said.
“A lot of people have asked about him if we will continue to investigate Mr. Spears,” he said, referring to the singer’s father, James “Jamie” Spears, who handled his daughter’s large fortune until he was suspended on September 29. “The answer ultimately depends on my client, Britney.”
The parties will meet in court at a later date to tie up loose financial threads, and accountant John Zabel will remain in office to resolve financial issues related to outstanding payments. Zabel assumed the position of temporary guardian of the estate of Spears after the suspension of Jamie Spears.
“OMG I love my fans so much it’s crazy !!!” Spears wrote on Instagram, sprinkling her words with emojis. “I think I’m going to cry the rest of the day !!!! The best day in history … praise the Lord … can you give me an Amen ”.
“Today history has been made. Britney is free! ”Spears’s fiancé Sam Asghari wrote on Instagram, captioning a pink square with the word“ Freedom ”written in white.
The beginning of the guardianship capped some tumultuous years in which the pop music star – then in his twenties – lived under the most intense spotlights.
Since her rise as a teenage pop star, she has been relentlessly hunted by the paparazzi and subjected to intense media scrutiny. She had her second child, partied with Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, divorced her husband Kevin Federline and entered rehab. His behavior in public became increasingly erratic, including shaving his head and attacking a photographer’s car with an umbrella.
After locking herself in a bathroom with her youngest son, she was carried out of her home on a stretcher and, for the second time, was placed in involuntary psychiatric restraint. The court granted Jamie Spears temporary control of his person and estate in early 2008 and soon after made his temporary supervision permanent.
Fans began questioning custody almost from the beginning, and that questioning from their fans evolved over the years into an increasingly vocal movement. In April 2019, the “Britney’s Gram” podcast published an episode titled #FreeBritney that featured inside information – a break from its usual humorous analysis of the singer’s Instagram account – and the movement rallied around that hashtag.
While under the supervision of others, the “Oops! I Did It Again ”had kept working, earning millions for herself and many others with albums, concert tours, fragrances, merchandise, and a lucrative Las Vegas residency. Questions about that and other issues were raised in the documentary “Framing Britney Spears,” released in February 2021.
The spate of activity around guardianship was sparked last April when Britney Spears’ court-appointed attorney Ingham told the judge: “My client has requested a hearing where she can go directly to court.” .
That hearing was set for June 23, and at it Spears – who turns 40 on December 2 – spoke in court for the first time in years. She declared that the guardianship was “abusive” and lashed out at her father for how, according to her, he had treated her over the years. He stunned his followers when he said that the guardianship did not allow him to remove an intrauterine device from his body.
Unlike in the past in the case, Spears’ testimony was heard by the public, and the wheels of justice turned again.
In mid-August, Jamie Spears filed a petition saying that he would cease to be the guardian of his daughter’s estate. The document, drafted by then-attorney Vivian Thoreen, argued that “there was no real reason to suspend or remove Mr. Spears as conservator of the estate,” but promised that he would end up leaving office once a couple of persistent problems were resolved.
That wasn’t enough for Team Britney, who quickly accused Jamie Spears of scheming to defraud $ 2 million in payments before officially relinquishing control of their daughter’s finances.
In a surprising turn of events, Jamie Spears filed on September 7 to end the guardianship entirely, insisting that “all he wants is the best for his daughter.”
Rosengart celebrated that presentation as a “huge” legal victory for his client, then quickly accused Jamie Spears of surrendering in an effort to avoid the consequences of his alleged misconduct amid mounting public scrutiny. After the documentary “Controlling Britney Spears” aired, in which it was claimed, among other things, that the singer had been surreptitiously watched in her own room, the lawyer said that Jamie Spears had “crossed unfathomable lines” and noted that “The allegations deserve a serious investigation.”
Britney Spears’ father – who had been removed as his daughter’s personal guardian in early 2019 – was suspended as curator of her estate on September 29. John Zabel, a certified public accountant chosen by his team, succeeded him temporarily as acting curator of the singer’s finances.
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Britney Spears’ guardianship ends after 13 years