The 39-year-old has seldom spoken out about the unique legal arrangement that has robbed her of her autonomy since 2008. However, records examined by the Times, which co-produced a documentary about the contentious process that led to the conservatorship, show that she has frequently protested to the authority granted to her father, Jamie Spears, by the courts.
According to confidential court records obtained by the New York Times, Spears claimed she was forced to perform against her will, given little freedom in her daily life, and barred from accessing her $60 million fortune.
According to the Times, a court investigator noted in 2016 that “she articulated she feels the conservatorship has become an oppressive and controlling tool against her.” According to the artist, the system has “too much control … Too, too much !” concluded the investigator. According to the papers, the arrangement was so stringent that it gave her father authority over who she dated and befriended, as well as how she decorated her house.
Her father and others engaged in the conservatorship insisted that it was a well-oiled machine that had saved her from a low point and benefitted Ms. Spears, and that she could terminate it whenever she chose.
According to the papers, Spears requested modifications to the conservatorship in 2014, when her lawyer told a judge that the singer wanted to look into removing her father, Jamie Spears, from his role as her guardian due to what she called excessive drinking.
The legal battle over the conservatorship has been cloaked in secrecy for years, though Spears has recently fought for more transparency through her court-appointed lawyer, and she stated in court last year that she no longer wants her father engaged in her affairs.
According to court documents, Spears informed a court investigator assigned to her case in 2016 that she wanted out of the conservatorship immediately, alleging it had become a “oppressive and controlling tool,” and that she is “sick of being taken advantage of.”
The singer also stated that she was constantly accompanied by security personnel and that her credit card was held by her security team and assistant. She complained to the investigator about her inability to make aesthetic improvements to her house, such as refinishing her kitchen cabinetry.
Ms. Spears told the court in 2019 that the conservatorship had compelled her to stay in a mental health institution and perform against her will.
According to court records, Spears stated that her father, Jamie, was “obsessed” with controlling her and that the conservatorship arrangement “comes with a lot of fear” for her.
While she was earning millions from her Las Vegas residency, the singer was only paid $2,000 per week, according to the records.
For the most of that period, the singer’s once-estranged father, James P. Spears, was in charge of her life and money. Mr. Spears, often known as Jamie, was appointed conservator in 2008, shortly after Ms. Spears was brought by ambulance to a hospital for involuntary psychiatric assessments amid a series of public struggles and worries about her mental health and substance usage.
Jamie Spears has maintained that the conservatorship is in his daughter’s best interests, that it is voluntary, and that no one is exploiting the singer. “Any time Britney wants to end her conservatorship, she can ask her lawyer to file a petition to terminate it,” his lawyer, Vivian Lee Thoreen, told People in March. “She has always had this right, but in 13 years has never exercised it.”
The Times also obtained documents from a closed hearing in 2014, during which Spears’ court-appointed attorney, Samuel D Ingham III, stated that the singer wanted to investigate the removal of her father as conservator, citing concerns about his drinking and a “shopping list” of other grievances.
Mr. Ingham told the judge last year that Ms. Spears was “afraid of her father,” who still manages her almost $60 million fortune.
At the hearing, conservatorship lawyers stated that Jamie had willingly consented to alcohol tests, while the father’s attorney stated that he had taken one test and refused to do others, claiming that the request was “inappropriate,” according to the Times. The court concurred, saying, “Absolutely inappropriate. And who is she to be demanding that of anybody?”