Music|Britney Spears: End Conservatorship, but Remove My Father First
The singer’s lawyer requested the installation of a temporary conservator, citing her need to negotiate a prenuptial agreement and ongoing “anguish and harm.”
Sept. 22, 2021, 3:55 p.m. ET
Britney Spears supports the prompt and complete termination this fall of the conservatorship that has overseen her finances and personal life since 2008, a lawyer for the singer said in a court filing on Wednesday, but she wants her father removed from the legal arrangement first.
In a supplemental petition filed a week before the next scheduled hearing in the case, Mathew S. Rosengart, a lawyer for Ms. Spears, reiterated his previous calls for the immediate resignation or suspension of James P. Spears as the conservator of her estate, even as Ms. Spears pursues the dissolution of the guardianship and an investigation into her father’s conduct while in charge.
“While the entire conservatorship is promptly wound down and formally terminated, it is clear that Mr. Spears cannot be permitted to hold a position of control over his daughter for another day,” Mr. Rosengart, a former federal prosecutor who took over as Ms. Spears’s representative in July, wrote. “Every day Mr. Spears clings to his post is another day of anguish and harm to his daughter.”
The filing follows a surprise turnaround by Mr. Spears earlier this month, when he asked the Los Angeles probate court to “seriously consider whether this conservatorship is no longer required” after more than a decade of asserting that the unique arrangement was in his daughter’s best interest. Previously, in August, lawyers for Mr. Spears said he planned to step down as conservator “when the time is right,” arguing that there were “no urgent circumstances justifying Mr. Spears’ immediate suspension.”
In June, in her first detailed public comments on the conservatorship, Ms. Spears, 39, called it abusive and said she wanted to end the arrangement without having to undergo additional psychiatric evaluations.
But Mr. Rosengart said on Wednesday that while Ms. Spears “fully consents” to terminating the conservatorship, the singer “rejects her father’s recounting of history and maintains that the Termination Petition was motivated by Mr. Spears’s apparent self-interest” — namely, rehabilitating his reputation, avoiding suspension and impeding Ms. Spears’s ability “to further investigate and examine his conduct since 2008.”
Mr. Rosengart called for “a temporary, short-term conservator to replace Mr. Spears’s until the conservatorship is completely and inevitably terminated this fall.”
He said Ms. Spears’s current personal conservator, Jodi Montgomery, backed both the eventual termination of the conservatorship — “subject to proper transition and asset protection” — and “the immediate and necessary suspension of Mr. Spears, by no later than September 29,” the date of the next status hearing.
The lawyer also cited the singer’s recent engagement to be married, noting that Mr. Spears’s current role as conservator of the estate “would impede the ability to negotiate and consummate” a prenuptial agreement.
Lawyers for Mr. Spears did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Additionally, Mr. Rosengart called for a future hearing on outstanding accounting and financial issues regarding the conservatorship, arguing that mismanagement of Ms. Spears’s estate by her father was “evident and ongoing.” The lawyer said that Mr. Spears had been served a request for discovery and a sworn deposition in August, before he filed to end the conservatorship.
Mr. Rosengart cited Mr. Spears’s potential “unwarranted commissions from his daughter’s work, totaling millions of dollars”; a salary larger than Ms. Spears’s, “including for apparently-unused ‘office’ space”; his failure to negotiate or to obtain a contract with the singer’s previous business manager; and “potential self-dealing” in connection with the estate’s assets.
Liz Day contributed reporting.