13 November 2021

WON more time! Britney Spears gains independence as conservatorship ends after 13 years

13 November 2021

Britney Spears has regained control of her life and career for the first time in 13 years after a judge in Los Angeles terminated her conservatorship.

The pop superstar, 39, had been fighting to end the complex legal arrangement she was placed under in 2008 amid substance abuse and mental health issues.

The conservatorship had long outraged the singer’s millions of fans, but pressure to terminate it had ratcheted up over the last 12 months as the previously silent Spears brought her grievances into the public eye.

Britney Spears is a free woman after her conservatorship was terminated (PA) (PA Archive)

Over the summer she delivered bombshell courtroom testimony alleging the arrangement – which is usually reserved for the very ill or old – was abusive and deprived her of basic human rights such as getting married and having more children.

Spears’s explosive interventions have been key in Friday’s momentous decision.

Brenda J Penny, sitting at Los Angeles Superior Court, listened to 30 minutes of testimony before delivering her decision.

She added two caveats – specifying that an accountant serving as a temporary conservator should retain some powers – but the complex legal arrangement is “effective today… thereby terminated”.

Judge Penny cited California law as she made her decision and there was no dissent among the parties inside the packed courtroom or joining virtually – which included Spears’s parents, father Jamie and mother Lynne.

Britney Spears fans celebrated the news outside court (PA) (PA Archive)

John Zabel, a certified public accountant,  was appointed temporary conservator in September and retains two basic powers.

He is able to transfer assets to the Spears estate and execute “supplemental” decisions on its behalf. Spears’s lawyer Mathew Rosengart, who accepted the arrangement was “a little bit unusual”, said it was for his client’s “financial and personal wellbeing”.

Mr Zabel’s lawyer called his abilities “very limited administrative powers”.

Lawyers for Jodie Montgomery, the conservator of Spears’s personal affairs, have filed a termination plan under seal to help with her transition to full independence.

Lauriann Wright, Ms Montgomery’s lawyer, told the court there is no reason Spears cannot live a “safe, happy and fulfilling life”.

Mr Rosengart, who was applauded by fans of the singer as he entered the courtroom, ended the hearing by thanking the judge for allowing him to join the case in July.

News of the termination was met with wild celebrations by the dedicated #FreeBritney supporters who made their regular pilgrimage to gather outside court for the hearing.

The decision to end the arrangement closed one of the most controversial chapters in modern pop music history and handed Spears the keys to her estimated 60 million dollar (£45 million) estate.

Spears was also granted her wish to be freed without the need for a psychiatric evaluation, which she made clear she was against.

The judge’s decision was the culmination of years of public and private legal wrangling from multiple parties who faced allegations they did not have Spears’s best interests at heart.

Jamie had been in control of his daughter’s money but was suspended from that role in September, much to Spears’s delight.

The court heard their relationship had disintegrated and she saw him as a major obstacle between her and a return to living a normal life.

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