Britney Spears has been freed from her father. And she could be freed entirely from court control within weeks.
In a major victory for the pop star, a judge on Wednesday suspended the singer’s father from the conservatorship that has controlled her life and money for 13 years, saying the arrangement “reflects a toxic environment”.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny agreed with a petition from Spears and her attorney that James Spears needs to give up his role as conservator. The decision comes months after Spears pleaded for her father’s removal in dramatic court hearings, saying, “I want my life back.”
“The current situation is untenable,” the judge said after hearing arguments from both sides. “It reflects a toxic environment which requires the suspension of James Spears.”
And with no objections to ending the conservatorship, Judge Penny is likely to terminate it at a November 12 hearing, restoring the singer’s life and money choices to her after years of increasingly vocal calls to #FreeBritney that she eventually joined.
James Spears sought the conservatorship in 2008 and had been its primary controller and biggest champion. He reversed course in recent weeks, asking the judge to end the conservatorship immediately, arguing that would render his removal pointless.
The singer and her attorney agreed that the conservatorship should end, but argued that James Spears’s removal was an essential first step.
Britney Spears was not present at the hearing. Her father connected remotely but did not speak during the proceedings. His attorney argued that there was no justification for his removal.
“There is not a shred of evidence to support suspension,” lawyer Vivian Thoreen told the judge. “His record is impeccable.”
Penny said her decision was “unappealable”, but Thoreen said she would explore options for appeal regardless.
The singer’s attorney, Mathew Rosengart, said after the hearing that Britney Spears “has been faced with a decade-long nightmare, a Kafkaesque nightmare, orchestrated by her father and others”.
Mr Rosengart vowed to pursue “even more serious ramifications for his misconduct”.
The attorney said he planned to take a “top-to-bottom look” at the actions of James Spears and his representatives and suggested law enforcement should investigate revelations in The New York Times about a listening device placed in his daughter’s bedroom.
Fans were elated by the ruling.
“My heart’s racing out of my chest,” said Lorin Sisco of Hawaii, who flew to Los Angeles for the hearing and said she’s been at the courthouse for every proceeding for the past year. “I am so excited for what she has to do with the rest of her life.”
Hours before the hearing, a major street outside the courthouse was closed to vehicles, allowing about 100 Spears supporters to march and host a rally where they shouted “Hey, hey, ho, ho, the conservatorship has got to go!” and other pro-Britney chants.
As the crowd grew, fans sang Spears hits Toxic and Baby One More Time” and speakers described abusive conservatorships that had affected their families.
The conservatorship was established in 2008 when Britney Spears began to have public mental struggles and lost custody of her children.