Britney released: Judge dissolves Spears custody
Angels Britney Spears is free. A Los Angeles judge on Friday ended the regency that had controlled the pop singer’s life and finances for nearly 14 years.
The decision culminated in an amazing journey that saw Spears publicly demand an end to guardianship, hire her own lawyer, remove her father from power, and finally win the freedom to make her own medical, financial and personal decisions for the first time since 2008.
“As of today, the guardianship of the person and property of Britney Jean Spears has been terminated,” Judge Brenda Penny said.
Jubilation erupted outside the courtroom and fans cheered and shouted after the decision was announced. The crowd chanted “Britney! Britney! Britney!” and fans sang and danced to Spears’ song “Stronger.”
Spears immediately tweeted about the decision: “Oh my God I love my fans so much it’s crazy!!! Guess I’m going to cry the rest of the day!!!! Best day ever… Thank God… Can I have an Amen???”
Spears’ attorney, Matthew Rosengart, told fans and reporters that the case “helped shine a light on guardianship and guardianship from coast to coast, from California to New York. It required an incredible amount of insight, courage, and grace.”
The judge’s move was widely expected, with little support for prolonging the legal arrangement. No new arguments were presented in the 30-minute session. Spears did not attend.
Last spring, it appeared that the guardianship could last for years. Then it collapsed surprisingly quickly.
Key to the breakdown was the speech Spears gave at a June hearing when she enthusiastically called the restrictions and scrutiny “abusive” and said “I just want my life back,” a line her attorney repeated in court on Friday. Spears demanded that the guardianship end without any intrusive assessment of her mental state.
Legal experts at the time said that was unlikely to happen, and would represent a departure from the court’s general practice.
But the judge said in Wednesday’s hearing that California law does not require her to order a further evaluation of Spears if no one asks for it.
A judge allowed Spears to hire Rosengart’s attorney, in July. He first made it his goal to remove James Spears from his role as guardian of his daughter’s finances before working to end the guardianship completely. Judge James Spears commented at a hearing in September, citing the “toxic environment” his presence had created.
But more courtroom battles may lie ahead.
Rosengart also pledged to pursue the investigation into the role of James Spears. He said he and his team found mismanagement of Britney Spears’ financial affairs, which suggests she may file another lawsuit. Court records have estimated her net worth at $60 million.
He also said law enforcement should investigate what was revealed in a New York Times documentary about a listening device placed in her bedroom.
James Spears’ attorneys said Rosengart’s allegations ranged from unproven to impossible, and that he only acted in his daughter’s best interests.
In some ways, the post-regency battle has already begun. James Spears has split from the lawyers who helped him run him, and hires Alex Weingarten, an attorney who specializes in the type of litigation that might be coming.
In court filings last week, former Britney Spears business executives, Tri-Star Sports and Entertainment Group, denied Rosengart’s demands for documents about the company’s involvement in custody from 2008 to 2018. The group has also denied any role in or knowing anything. Observe the star.
Judy Montgomery, the court-appointed trustee who oversaw the singer’s life and medical decisions beginning in 2019, developed a care plan with her therapists and doctors to guide Spears through the end of the guardianship period and beyond.
“There is no reason why Mrs. Spears should not live a safe, happy and fulfilling life after this guardianship,” Montgomery’s attorney, Laurian Wright, said at the hearing.
The judge temporarily kept a small portion of the guardianship in place to allow the accountant who took over as James Spears to arrange the singer’s affairs in the coming months before transferring power to her again.
Britney Spears was a new mom of 26 years at the height of her career when her father established guardianship, initially on a temporary basis, in February 2008 after a series of public mental health struggles.
It ends just a few weeks before her 40th birthday, with her two sons in their mid-teens and her career on indefinite hold, as she’s engaged to marry a second time.
A turning point occurred early in 2019, when she canceled a planned concert in Las Vegas.
Convinced that she was placed in a mental hospital against her will, fans began to defy and demand the court #FreeBritney. At first, they were dismissed as conspiracy theorists, but the singer herself gave them the endorsement in 2020 in a series of court filings that said they were right to demand more transparency and scrutiny of her legal status.
These filings proved to be the first indication from Spears, who had been silent about the guardianship for years, that they would seek major changes.
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