Britney Spears asks court to end 'nightmare' conservatorship as Netflix releases trailer

For the first time, the singer is formally asking for her father to be removed from the arrangement by September 29

A Britney Spears supporter holds a postcard on the day of a conservatorship case hearing in Los Angeles in July. Spears has formally filed papers to end the conservatorship. Reuters
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Britney Spears said in a court filing on Wednesday that she agrees with her father that the conservatorship that has controlled her life and money since 2008 should be terminated.

The filing in Los Angeles Superior Court from Britney's lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, says she “fully consents” to “expeditiously” ending the conservatorship, which her father, Jamie Spears, who has controlled it for most of its 13 years, asked for in a September 7 petition.

It’s the first time Britney has called for an end to the arrangement in court documents, though she has called for its termination in hearings.

Her filing emphasises, however, that it is more important to her that her father be removed, calling it “a necessary first – and substantial – step towards Ms Spears’s freedom and ending the Kafkaesque nightmare imposed upon her by her father, so that her dignity and basic liberties can be restored".

It is urgent that Jamie be suspended from his role of conservator of Britney's finances by September 29, the next hearing date in the case, the filing says.

“Mr Spears cannot be permitted to hold a position of control over his daughter for another day,” the document says.

The documents also reveal that Britney is in the process of putting together a prenuptial agreement after getting engaged to her long-time boyfriend Sam Asghari this month. That process will mean the intensive involvement of the conservator of her money, a role her father cannot be permitted to play, the filing says.

The couple announced their engagement after five years together, first meeting in 2016 on the set of Britney's Slumber Party video.

The flurry of major filings means that next week’s hearing could be pivotal.

Judge Brenda Penny, who has remained largely neutral in her oversight of the case, will be pressed to decide whether to remove Jamie or to put the conservatorship on a path to termination.

Jamie stepped aside as conservator of his daughter’s person in 2019, maintaining only his role as conservator of her money. He and his lawyers have said that renders many of his daughter’s complaints about his control meaningless.

Jodi Montgomery, a court-appointed professional, now acts as conservator of Britney's person. Wednesday’s filing says Montgomery also consents to ending the conservatorship.

Britney said in a dramatic speech in court on June 23 that she was being compelled under the conservatorship to take certain medications and to use an intrauterine device for birth control against her will. It gave a jolt to the case and galvanised support for her.

Jamie has denied acting in anything but his daughter’s best interest, and has declined demands that he resign immediately, though he said in court documents that he does have a plan to eventually step down.

Jamie Spears says his daughter, Britney, should get the chance to terminate the conservatorship if she wants to. Photo: AP

But in a major reversal and possibly strategic move, he said in his September 7 filing that if she “wants to terminate the conservatorship and believes that she can handle her own life, Mr Spears believes that she should get that chance.”

Rosengart has sought to keep the focus on Jamie's removal since his hiring in July, and says he will pursue an investigation of his handling of the conservatorship even after any removal.

Former prosecutor David Henderson has predicted that September 29 will mark the day that Jamie is removed from Britney’s conservatorship.

“I think this is one of those situations where you turn on the light, and the bugs scatter,” the Civil Rights lawyer told CNBC. “I think that on the 29th, we can expect to see him removed.”

The conservatorship was established in 2008 when Britney began to have very public mental health struggles as media outlets obsessed over her every move, hordes of paparazzi aggressively followed her and she lost custody of her children.

Meanwhile, Netflix has released the first full trailer for its anticipated documentary, Britney vs Spears, directed by Erin Lee Carr, and set for a September 28 premiere.

“The world knows Britney Spears: performer, artist, icon. But in the last few years, her name has been publicly tied to another, more mysterious term: conservatorship,” reads the official synopsis.

Britney vs Spears tells the explosive story of Britney’s life and her public and private search for freedom. Featuring years-long investigative work, exclusive interviews and new documents, this Netflix feature film paints a thorough portrait of the pop star’s trajectory from girl next door to a woman trapped by fame and family and her own legal status. It shows Britney’s life without utilising the traumatic images that have previously defined her.”

The trailer opens with Britney's recorded voice saying: “I just want my life back" and shows director Carr speaking with several experts on conservatorships.

“I’ve worked all my life,” Britney continues. “I don’t owe these people anything.” Watch the trailer below:

– Additional reporting by AP

Updated: November 14, 2021, 7:23 AM