A Breakdown of Britney Spears's 13-Year Conservatorship Battle and How It Ended
After 13 long years, Britney Spears's conservatorship finally came to an end on Nov. 12, 2021. The ruling came from Judge Brenda Penny, who deemed the conservatorship was "no longer required." The decision arrived after Britney's father, Jamie Spears, was suspended as her conservator that September.
On June 23, 2021, Britney addressed the court about terminating her conservatorship, which had largely been in control of her life since 2008. As the pop star shared her story, including the heartbreaking and "abusive" treatment she received over the years, a handful of Britney's former costars, friends, and family voiced support for her.
Now, nearly two years later, Spears looks back on that tumultuous time of her life in a new tell-all memoir, "The Woman in Me," out Oct. 24. Per an excerpt obtained by People published on Oct. 17, Spears reveals in her book that she "became a robot" during her conservatorship. "But not just a robot — a sort of child-robot," she writes. "I had been so infantilized that I was losing pieces of what made me feel like myself. The conservatorship stripped me of my womanhood, made me into a child. I became more of an entity than a person onstage. I had always felt music in my bones and my blood; they stole that from me."
Read ahead for a complete timeline of Spears's conservatorship, including everything that happened up until it was terminated, plus what the singer has said about it.
June 23, 2021: Britney Spears Speaks Out in Court
The singer appeared virtually before a Los Angeles court to request that her years-long conservatorship be terminated. While addressing the court, Britney candidly detailed the "abusive" treatment she has received through the conservatorship, including not being able to have kids or get married. "I've lied and told the whole world I'm OK and I'm happy," she said, per People. "If I said that enough, maybe I'd become happy . . . I'm in shock. I'm traumatized . . . I'm so angry it's insane."
June 23, 2021: Justin Timberlake and More Celebs Show Their Support For Britney Spears
Shortly after Britney broke her silence on the conservatorship, stars showered the singer with support. One notable celebrity who spoke out was Britney's ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake, whom she dated from 1998 to 2002. "After what we saw today, we should all be supporting Britney at this time," he wrote on X (formerly Twitter). "Regardless of our past, good and bad, and no matter how long ago it was . . . what's happening to her is just not right. No woman should ever be restricted from making decisions about her own body. No one should EVER be held against their will . . . or ever have to ask permission to access everything they've worked so hard for."
Timberlake added, "Jess and I send our love, and our absolute support to Britney during this time. We hope the courts, and her family make this right and let her live however she wants to live."
June 24, 2021: Britney Spears Speaks Out Again on Instagram
Following her conservatorship court hearing, Britney released a statement in an Instagram post alongside a quote from Albert Einstein. In her post, she apologized to her fans for hiding details about her conservatorship in the past, writing, "I apologize for pretending like I've been ok the past two years."
She added, "I did it because of my pride and I was embarrassed to share what happened to me … but honestly who doesn't want to capture there Instagram in a fun light 💡🤷🏼♀️ !!!! Believe it or not pretending that I'm ok has actually helped … so I decided to post this quote today because by golly if you're going through hell … I feel like Instagram has helped me have a cool outlet to share my presence … existence … and to simply feel like I matter despite what I was going through and hey it worked … so I've decided to start reading more fairy tales 👑🧚♀️🦄 !!!!!"
June 28, 2021: Jamie Lynn Spears Breaks Her Silence About Britney Spears's Conservatorship
In a series of videos on her Instagram Stories, Britney's younger sister explained the reason she's never publicly discussed the singer's conservatorship. Jamie Lynn said, "I feel like until my sister was able to speak for herself and say what she felt she needed to say publicly, that it wasn't my place and it wasn't the right thing to do." She then expressed that while she has not always shown her support for Britney publicly, she does so in private. "My sister knows I love and support her. That's the only person I owe anything to. I am not my family; I am my own person; I am speaking for myself."
June 29, 2021: Kevin Federline Supports Britney Spears
In response to Britney's June 23, 2021, conservatorship hearing, her ex-husband and father of her two sons made a statement to People via his attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan. "[Kevin] certainly respects Britney and only hopes the best for her because when the best for her is achieved, it's the best for their kids. The kids love their mother and he wants there to be a healthy and strong relationship."
Kaplan added of Britney challenging her conservatorship at the time, "If it's what's best for her, Kevin supports it . . . If she's strong and healthy and wants to be in control of her own life, and can do that in a reasonable, responsible fashion, then more power to her."
June 30, 2021: Jamie Spears and Britney Spears's Conservator React to the Singer's Testimony
Nearly a week after Britney's June 2021 court hearing, the singer's father submitted court documents expressing his "concern" over conservator Jodi Montgomery not respecting his daughter's wishes and claiming that she is responsible for Britney's "difficulties and suffering," per People. He also noted that he had not served as Britney's conservator since September 2019.
Shortly after, Montgomery responded to Jamie's claims in a statement from her attorney, Lauriann Wright, claiming that she had been a "tireless advocate" for Britney and that Jamie had been the one in charge of approving all expenditures as the controller of her estate. "Practically speaking, since everything costs money, no expenditures can happen without going through Mr. Spears and Mr. Spears approving them," her statement read. "Ms. Montgomery has advocated on Britney's behalf for any expenditures that Britney has requested as well as for expenditures recommended by Britney's medical team."
June 30, 2021: Britney Spears's Request to Remove Her Father From Her Conservatorship Is Denied
On June 30, 2021, Variety reported that new court documents revealed Judge Penny denied Britney's request to remove her father, Jamie, as her co-conservator. Britney's lawyer, Samuel Ingham III, filed the request on her behalf back in November 2020.
A day later, it was reported that Bessemer Trust, the firm hired to oversee Britney's financial affairs alongside her father, filed a court document that it wanted to resign from the conservatorship following Britney's court hearing. "As a result of the conservatee's testimony at the June 23 hearing, however, Petitioner has become aware that the Conservatee objects to the continuance of her Conservatorship and desires to terminate the conservatorship," Bessemer Trust said, per The New York Times. "Petitioner has heard the Conservatee and respects her wishes."
July 5, 2021: Britney Spears’s Longtime Manager Larry Rudolph Resigns
After being Britney's manager since the early 1990s, Larry Rudolph announced he was resigning in a letter to Jamie Spears and Jodi Montgomery. "It has been over 2 1/2 years since Britney and I last communicated, at which time she informed me she wanted to take an indefinite work hiatus," he said, per Deadline. "Earlier today, I became aware that Britney had been voicing her intention to officially retire. As her manager, I believe it is in Britney's best interest for me to resign from her team as my professional services are no longer needed."
July 6, 2021: Britney Spears's Lawyer, Samuel Ingham III, Resigns
Following Rudolph's resignation, Britney's lawyer, Samuel Ingham III, filed court documents asking to be dismissed as her counsel. "Samuel D. Ingham III hereby resigns as court-appointed counsel for Britney Jean Spears, conservatee, effective upon the appointment of new court-appointed counsel," the court filings read, according to Variety.
Britney's conservator, Montgomery, released a statement to People at the time saying she had no plans of stepping down as the singer's conservator. "She remains committed to steadfastly supporting Ms. Spears in every way she can within the scope of her duties as a conservator of the person," Montgomery's lawyer, Wright, said in a statement. "Ms. Spears as recently as yesterday has asked Ms. Montgomery to continue to serve. Ms. Montgomery will continue to serve as a conservator for as long as Ms. Spears and the Court desire her to do so."
A day later, People reported that Britney's mother Lynne Spears filed a petition for permission for the singer to hire her own lawyer. "Her capacity is certainly different today than it was in 2008, and Conservatee should no longer be held to the 2008 standard, whereby she was found to 'not have the capacity to retain counsel,'" the filing read.
July 14, 2021: Britney Spears's Request For a New Lawyer Is Granted
During another court hearing, a judge granted Britney permission to hire her own lawyer following Ingham III's exit. The singer's new lawyer was Mathew Rosengart, who's previously represented stars like Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Keanu Reeves.
"Pursuant to my statement in open court on June 23, 2021, my rights, and my desire to end the above-referenced conservatorship as to my father, Jamie P. Spears, it is my desire to choose and retain my own counsel, at Greenberg, Traurig, LLP as set forth above," Britney stated in legal documents, per Variety.
In her testimony, Britney also accused her father of abusing his power as her conservator. "I'm here to get rid of my dad and charge him with conservatorship abuse," she told the court. "This conservatorship has allowed my dad to ruin my life."
Following the hearing, Britney celebrated her new conservatorship lawyer by posting a video of herself horseback riding and doing cartwheels on Instagram. "Coming along, folks ... coming along 🖕🏻!!!!!" she captioned it. "New with real representation today ... I feel GRATITUDE and BLESSED !!!! Thank you to my fans who are supporting me ... You have no idea what it means to me be supported by such awesome fans !!!! God bless you all !!!!!" Her then-boyfriend (now soon-to-be ex-husband), Sam Asghari, expressed similar sentiments when he responded in the comments, writing, "Internet is about to explode #freebritney."
July 17, 2021: Britney Spears Calls Out People Who "Never Showed Up" For Her
In a lengthy Instagram post, the singer called out people who were publicly supporting her but never showed support behind closed doors. "There's nothing worse than when the people closest to you who never showed up for you post things in regard to your situation whatever it may be and speak righteously for support," she wrote. "How dare you make it public that NOW you CARE." Britney continued, "If you're reading this and you know who you are . . . and you actually have the nerve to say anything about my situation just to save face for yourself publicly. . . . Please stop with the righteous approach."
In a follow-up post, Britney spoke out about sister Jamie Lynn, adding that she wasn't happy that the latter performed a remix of her songs at Radio Disney Music Awards in 2017. "I don't like that my sister showed up at an awards show and performed MY SONGS to remixes !!!!! My so-called support system hurt me deeply !!!!" Though Britney noted that "this conservatorship killed my dreams," she is still holding on to hope. "People try to kill hope because hope is one of the most vulnerable and fragile things there is !!!! I'm gonna go read a mother f*cking fairy tale now !!!!" She ended her post by saying, "If you don't want to see my precious ass dancing in my living room or it's not up to your standards ... go read a f*cking book 📕 !!!!!"
July 26, 2021: Britney Spears Files to Remove Her Father as Conservator
Nearly a month after Britney first broke her silence about the conservatorship, The New York Times reported that her lawyer, Rosengart, filed to replace Jamie Spears with certified public accountant Jason Rubin. According to CNBC, Rubin was a principal at Certified Strategies, which is a firm that specializes in estate financial management, elder financial abuse investigation, investment fraud investigation, and securities litigation.
This move came fewer than two weeks after Rosengart was appointed Britney's lawyer, taking over for court-appointed lawyer Samuel D. Ingham III. "There might well come a time when the court will be called upon to consider whether the conservatorship should be terminated in its entirety and whether — in addition to stripping his daughter of her dignity, autonomy and certain fundamental liberties — Mr. Spears is also guilty of misfeasance or malfeasance warranting the imposition of surcharges, damages or other legal action against him," Rosengart wrote in the filing at the time, per Reuters.
Aug. 5, 2021: Britney Spears's Lawyer Requests the "Immediate Suspension" of Jamie Spears
Ahead of Britney's Sept. 29, 2021, hearing, Rosengart filed court documents for "the immediate suspension" of Jamie as her conservator. "Although a two-month wait for a hearing on the Petition may not seem significant in the context of 13 years, Ms. Spears should not be forced to continue to feel traumatized, lose sleep, and suffer further," the court document stated, according to People. "Every day matters." However, Variety later reported that the request was denied on Aug. 9, 2021.
Aug. 12, 2021: Britney Spears's Father Agrees to Step Down From Conservatorship
In response to Britney's earlier petition, Jamie Spears agreed to step down as her conservator "when the time is right." Jamie's attorney, Vivian Thoreen, released a statement to People stating that while there were "no actual grounds" for removal, "it is highly debatable whether a change in conservator at this time would be in Ms. Spears' best interests." The statement also read: "Mr. Spears is willing to step down when the time is right, but the transition needs to be orderly and include a resolution of matters pending before the Court."
Shortly after, Britney's attorney, Rosengart, issued a statement to the publication, saying, "This is a major victory for Britney Spears and another step toward justice. I announced in Court on July 14 that, after 13 years of the status quo, it was time for Mr. Spears to be suspended or removed as conservator and that my firm and I would move aggressively and expeditiously for that outcome."
In paperwork filed on Aug. 30, 2021, (obtained by E! News), Britney's team claimed that Jamie was seeking approximately $2 million to step back as the singer's conservator, which included "attorneys' fees he has incurred" and "a substantial payment from Ms. Spears' Estate to certain third parties, including Tri-Star Sports & Entertainment Group." "Britney Spears will not be extorted," the filing said, per CBS News. "Mr. Spears's blatant attempt to barter suspension and removal in exchange for approximately $2 million in payments, on top of the millions already reaped from Ms. Spears's estate by Mr. Spears and his associates, is a non-starter."
Sept. 7, 2021: Britney Spears's Father Files a Petition to End Her Conservatorship
Nearly a month after agreeing to step down as her conservator, Britney's father, Jamie, unexpectedly filed a petition to end her 13-year conservatorship on Sept. 7, 2021, CNN reported. "Recent events related to this conservatorship have called into question whether circumstances have changed to such an extent that grounds for establishment of a conservatorship may no longer exist," the filing stated, according to documents obtained by the outlet.
"Ms. Spears has told this Court that she wants control of her life back without the safety rails of a conservatorship," the petition continued. "She wants to be able to make decisions regarding her own medical care, deciding when, where and how often to get therapy. She wants to control the money she has made from her career and spend it without supervision or oversight. She wants to be able to get married and have a baby, if she so chooses. In short, she wants to live her life as she chooses without the constraints of a conservator or court proceeding."
"As Mr. Spears has said again and again, all he wants is what is best for his daughter," the filing said. "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."
In a statement to People, Britney's attorney called the filing a "massive legal victory." "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."
Sept. 29, 2021: Britney Spears's Father Is Suspended From the Conservatorship
After filing a petition to step down as conservator of his daughter's estate, Jamie was immediately suspended from Britney's conservatorship by Judge Penny. Britney's attorney then pushed to have the conservatorship completely eradicated. "The conservatorship can and should be wound up and terminated promptly — ideally this fall," Rosengart stated during a hearing, per The Guardian.
Following his suspension, Jamie issued a statement to Variety via his attorney saying, "Mr. Spears loves his daughter Britney unconditionally. For thirteen years, he has tried to do what is in her best interests, whether as a conservator or her father. This started with agreeing to serve as her conservator when she voluntarily entered into the conservatorship. This included helping her revive her career and re-establish a relationship with her children. For anyone who has tried to help a family member dealing with mental health issues, they can appreciate the tremendous amount of daily worry and work this required. For Mr. Spears, this also meant biting his tongue and not responding to all the false, speculative, and unsubstantiated attacks on him by certain members of the public, media, or more recently, Britney's own attorney."
The statement then claimed his suspension was a "loss for Britney," adding, "Respectfully, the court was wrong to suspend Mr. Spears, put a stranger in his place to manage Britney's estate, and extend the very conservatorship that Britney begged the court to terminate earlier this summer. Again, it was Mr. Spears who took the initiative to file the petition to terminate the conservatorship when neither Britney's former court-appointed counsel nor her new privately-retained attorney would do so. It was Mr. Spears who asked the court at yesterday's hearing to immediately terminate the conservatorship while Britney's own attorney argued against it. Despite the suspension, Mr. Spears will continue to look out for the best interests of his daughter and work in good faith towards a positive resolution of all matters."
Asghari shared his excitement about Jamie's suspension on his Instagram Story, writing, "Free Britney! Congratulations!!!!!!!!!" In a follow-up post, he wrote of his then-fiancée, "She did this. Her fan base is called the army for a reason." Britney seemingly reacted to the news on her Instagram by sharing a video of her flying a plane with the caption, "On cloud 9 right now."
Nov. 3, 2021: Britney Spears's Mom Requests $650,000 to Cover Attorney Fees
In a petition filed on Nov. 1, 2021, Lynne requested more than $650,000 from Britney's estate to pay her attorneys for their involvement in the conservatorship case, People reported.
The following day, Britney called out her mom in a now-deleted Instagram post, writing, "Pssss my dad may have started the conservatorship 13 years ago ... but what people don't know is that my mom is the one who gave him the idea !!!!" She added, "She secretly ruined my life."
Nov. 12, 2021: Britney Spears's 13-Year Conservatorship Is Terminated
After 13 years, Judge Penny ruled to terminate Britney's conservatorship once and for all. "The conservatorship of the person and estate of Britney Jean Spears is no longer required," Judge Penny declared, per The New York Times. She also said Britney's estate conservator would continue working to help settle any ongoing financial concerns related to her case. The hearing marked the most pivotal and anticipated moment of the singer's long-standing legal battle for her freedom.
Oct. 17, 2023: Britney Spears Opens Up About Her Conservatorship
Excerpts from Spears's memoir were published by People on Oct. 17. The singer shares details about how she was deeply impacted by her years-long conservatorship. She writes that during that time she felt like "a shadow of myself." "This is what's hard to explain, how quickly I could vacillate between being a little girl and being a teenager and being a woman, because of the way they had robbed me of my freedom," the book reads. "There was no way to behave like an adult, since they wouldn't treat me like an adult, so I would regress and act like a little girl; but then my adult self would step back in — only my world didn't allow me to be an adult."
She adds: "The woman in me was pushed down for a long time. They wanted me to be wild onstage, the way they told me to be, and to be a robot the rest of the time. I felt like I was being deprived of those good secrets of life — those fundamental supposed sins of indulgence and adventure that make us human. They wanted to take away that specialness and keep everything as rote as possible. It was death to my creativity as an artist."