A judge on wednesday suspended Britney Spears father from the guardianship that has controlled her personal life and finances for 13 years, a great victory for the singer.
The ruling could pave the way for the end of the guardianship, which has given his father and others authority over his health care and career since 2008. This is what lies ahead.
What did the judge order?
After a contentious debate that lasted for nearly two hours, Los Angeles Judge Brenda Penny ruled that Jamie Spears, the singer’s father, should be suspended from his daughter’s guardianship, effective immediately. Britney Spears’ attorney, Mathew Rosengart, had argued that it was vital to his client’s well-being that her father be transferred immediately, noting that she had repeatedly testified about his abuse and that she would be “extraordinarily distressed” if he continued to have the control of your assets. He said the parties involved could move forward with efforts to finish the entire deal once Jamie is gone.
Jamie’s attorney had argued that instead, the judge should terminate the guardianship immediately, so the stay request would be moot. But the judge ultimately concluded that “the current situation is unsustainable” and “reflects a toxic environment that requires the suspension of James Spears.”
What happens next?
Jamie, who oversaw her daughter’s estate, is being replaced by John Zabel, a certified public accountant chosen by Britney Spears’ team, the judge ruled. Zabel will assume the position of temporary trustee conservator. The judge also set a hearing for Nov. 12 for the parties to discuss the total termination of the guardianship, which Britney Spears, her father and others involved in the settlement have said they support.
“The guardianship can and should be immediately terminated and rescinded,” Rosengart told the judge, adding that he was prepared to present a “termination plan” to the judge. Jodi Montgomery, a licensed conservator who oversees Spears ‘medical care and other personal matters, has also indicated that she would support ending the conservatorship and could work with Spears’ team in the process.
Judge Penny also scheduled a court hearing for Dec. 13 in which the parties will discuss issues related to multi-party fees (this hearing will be separate from the discussion of terminating the guardianship).
What does this mean for Britney Spears?
Britney Spears has opposed guardianship for years, records have shown, and has been especially vocal about removing her father from the settlement. Wednesday’s ruling was a huge victory for the pop star, and it means that her father will no longer control her finances or wealth. She and her attorneys have alleged that Jamie Spears paid himself more per month than he was given in allowance, and has also said that he would not act as long as he was in control of his money.
The professional accountant will now monitor your money for as long as the guardianship remains in effect. Spears is also one step closer to ending the deal entirely, which she publicly requested in court earlier this year. If the settlement is completely dissolved, your assets would be back under your control and you would no longer have a professional conservator overseeing your medical care and other personal life matters.
What does this mean for Jamie Spears?
Rosengart, Britney Spears’ attorney, alleged that Jamie Spears had strongly objected to the suspension in order to “avoid accountability and justice.” Rosengart, whom Britney hired in July, has repeatedly promised that his team would investigate Jamie and others involved in the guardianship and has suggested that those investigations will continue.
The suspension means that Jamie Spears and her attorneys will have to turn over the financial records to the substitute conservator, who will temporarily take over the estate obligations. Rosengart suggested in court Wednesday that the records could contain “revelations” of his “corruption,” noting that Jamie had “reaped millions” from his estate. The guardianship is set up in such a way that Britney Spears was forced to pay her father, her lawyers and others on the opposite side in the legal battles.
Jamie Spears will also face questions about the allegations in a recent New York Times documentary that he had hired a security firm that was secretly monitoring his daughter’s phone, recording her conversations in her bedroom, and monitoring fans who protested to end the guardianship. Rosengart said police would determine whether any criminal conduct occurred.
Jamie Spears’ attorney, Vivian Thoreen, did not directly deny the espionage allegations, although she widely questioned the content of the documentary. On Wednesday, Thoreen also defended his client’s actions as conservator, saying that “Mr. Spears has faithfully and loyally served as a court appointed trustee” and called his record “impeccable.”
Will the guardianship be dissolved?
Generally is very difficult for people to get out of guardianships once they are placed in the settlement. But in this case, attorneys on all sides and others involved in the guardianship have suggested they support ending the guardianship, citing the testimony of Britney Spears.
Supporters of the #FreeBritney movement have long argued that the guardianship was unnecessary and contradictory, noting that the pop star has continued her successful career while the court deemed her incapable of making basic decisions about her life.
The parties may be able to present a termination plan to the judge in November, and the judge will approve it immediately. But it’s unclear how the next few weeks and months will play out.