Britney Spears fights to remove father from conservatorship in court

Britney Spears’ fans demonstrate outside court as lawyer says she will NEVER perform again if her father remains in charge of her career, in latest conservatorship battle

  • A Los Angeles judge on Tuesday refused to remove Britney Spears’ father from her conservatorship
  • Judge Brenda Penny said the matter could be discussed again ‘down the road’
  • Spears’ attorney had told Penny that the popstar is scared of her father James Spears and refuses to perform again until he has no control over her career 
  • An attorney for James called the claims ‘hearsay’ and said that Britney was being prevented from speaking with her father   
  • Britney wants to have her father removed from her conservatorship claiming he’s unwilling to share control of her more than $60million fortune
  • The singer claims he isn’t transparent about how he uses her money and failed to tell her when she received new business management  
  • The ‘Toxic’ singer has been under conservatorship for 12 years and she says she is now on a work hiatus and her circumstances have changed  

Britney Spears’ lawyer claimed during a court hearing Tuesday that the popstar is scared of her father and will not perform again until he no longer has control over her career. 

The 38-year-old was fighting for freedom from her father James Spears, who has conservatorship over her and her $60million fortune, in a critical hearing Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles.   

The judge declined the request for his removal from the conservatorship but said she would consider it in the future.

Dozens of fans gathered outside court for the hearing, chanting ‘free Britney’ while waving banners and wearing facemasks with the slogan written on them. 

Britney Spears' fans gathered outside a courthouse in Los Angeles on Monday as the singer's lawyers said she will never perform again unless she can regain control of her career

Britney Spears’ fans gathered outside a courthouse in Los Angeles on Monday as the singer’s lawyers said she will never perform again unless she can regain control of her career

Fans gathered outside the courtroom to support Britney who was speaking via phone

Fans gathered outside the courtroom to support Britney who was speaking via phone

Spears is seeing to remove her father as co-conservator saying he's unwilling to share control of her more than $60million in assets and she's seeking transparency in the court's moves over her conservatorship. He's been her conservator for 11 years

Spears is seeing to remove her father as co-conservator saying he’s unwilling to share control of her more than $60million in assets and she’s seeking transparency in the court’s moves over her conservatorship. He’s been her conservator for 11 years

James Spears dismissed the claims that his daughter is afraid of him, according to UsWeekly

Earlier, Britney’s attorney Samuel D. Ingham III alleged: ‘My client has informed me that she is afraid of her father. She also stated that she will not perform as long as her father is in charge of her career.’

‘We are really at a crossroads,’ he added. 

James’ attorney Vivian Lee Thoreen hit back at the allegations and said Ingraham was preventing Britney from speaking to her 68-year-old father. 

The comments in court came as it was revealed the singer believes her father gave away up to $309k of her money in granting a 260 percent raise to her former management without her knowledge, according to new documents. 

The new legal documents revealed Tuesday that Spears believes her father James Spears gave $309,000 to her former business manager Tri Star Sports & Entertainment Group in 2019 without letting her know and despite her being on a work hiatus.

The documents state that Tri Star got paid a five percent commission on her gross entertainment-related income but it took a hit when she stopped performing in early 2019. 

The group then emailed James in November 2019 and asked to remain on the five percent commission plan with a $500,000 annual minimum. 

The singer claims her father approved of the arrangement without attempting to negotiate and in doing so cost her $308,974.51, the sum sent to Tri Star for services in 2019, which amounts to a 260 percent raise, according to TMZ

She is looking to disallow the payment and credit it back to her.   

Though the pop star has been absent from the stage and screen, Spears has been been making moves in court to regain control of her life and assets after being under conservatorship for 12 years.

Her father James was co-conservator with attorney Andrew Wallet for 11 years. Last year, James was left entirely in charge until he partially stepped down due to health reasons, but he is still conservator of her finances. 

In court filings this month, Spears said she wants ‘neutral’ wealth manager Bessemer Trust appointed as her ‘sole conservator’ because her father is unwilling to share control of her more than $60million in assets. 

Britney Spears, 38, is fighting for her freedom from her father who has conservatorship over her and her $60million fortune in a critical hearing Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles

Britney Spears, 38, is fighting for her freedom from her father who has conservatorship over her and her $60million fortune in a critical hearing Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles

Latest Instagram post: Spears posed in a flower crown and an off shoulder top on Instagram on Monday

Spears pictured on her Instagram last week

Latest Instagram posts: Spears posed in a flower crown and an off shoulder top on Instagram on Monday (left) and in a sultry white button down top last week (right)

The pop star was slated to participate in the Tuesday afternoon hearing via phone due to coronavirus restrictions. 

Judge Brenda Penny heard arguments in the case but said that the time to make a decision would come ‘down the road’. 

Much of the hearing was closed to the public and media, as Penny has routinely done at the request of James Spears and his attorneys, who have argued for his daughter’s need for privacy.

Britney, however, was expected to request a new conservator, request transparency in future court decisions and to object to certain accounting reports that will be made at the hearing. 

In court documents filed in August, Spears said she wanted Jodi Montgomery, her longtime care manager, to become her permanent conservator. She was appointed as temporary conservator last year when James fell ill. 

Spears will also ask for more transparency in the court’s moves, which are often kept secret.  

The conservatorship, known in many states as a guardianship, began in 2008 when she was having serious mental struggles and an often public meltdown. 

The arrangements are normally limited to people with severely diminished ability to make decisions for themselves, and are meant to be temporary, but Britney Spears has remained under court control longer than anyone expected.   

She has acknowledged that the arrangement was necessary when it began, and probably saved her career, and she remained silent both in public and in court for nearly all of its existence.

At first it was initiated following a 2007 incident where Spears shaved her own head in public. The second phase of conservatorship took place when she spent years touring and performing at her Las Vegas residency. 

The #FreeBritney movement is fueled by the singer's fans who demand the court free her from her father's conservatorship, arguing he's controlling her wealth and life. A view of her supporters outside the LA Courthouse on Tuesday afternoon pictured above

The #FreeBritney movement is fueled by the singer’s fans who demand the court free her from her father’s conservatorship, arguing he’s controlling her wealth and life. A view of her supporters outside the LA Courthouse on Tuesday afternoon pictured above

A view of #FreeBritney supporters outside the Los Angeles Courthouse on September 16

A view of #FreeBritney supporters outside the Los Angeles Courthouse on September 16

The third phase is underway now as Spears no longer wants to perform. She argues: ‘We are now at a point where the conservatorship must be changed substantially in order to reflect the major changes in her current lifestyle and her stated wishes.’

In August Spears began publicly seeking to choose who oversaw her life and money as the #FreeBritney movement among her fans grew, demanding she have more freedom and autonomy over her assets. 

The movement was given further attention from the likes of fellow child star Miley Cyrus and fans gathered outside the courthouse on Tuesday, as they had for other hearings.  

In August of this year, Britney Spears said she strongly objected to her father returning as conservator of her person. That would involve his control over her medical care and personal security. 

In September she went even further, asking that a corporate fiduciary, the Bessemer Trust, become conservator of her finances instead of her father.

Britney’s younger sister Jamie-Lynn has also filed to become the custodian of the conservatorship. 

James Spears first filed to have Wallet return as his co-conservator instead, but Wallet withdrew after Britney Spears objected. 

He subsequently said he would work with the Bessemer Trust, but now Britney Spears is insisting that such an arrangement would be ‘doomed to failure’ and her father needs to be out entirely.

The 'Toxic' singer is asking the court to appoint a 'neutral' wealth manager, for transparency in court decisions, and for Jodi Montgomery, her longtime care manager, to become her permanent conservator. Pictured above performing in Las Vegas in February 2016

The ‘Toxic’ singer is asking the court to appoint a ‘neutral’ wealth manager, for transparency in court decisions, and for Jodi Montgomery, her longtime care manager, to become her permanent conservator. Pictured above performing in Las Vegas in February 2016

Britney’s court-appointed attorney Ingham said James Spears was clearly planning to attempt ‘to retain full functional control of her assets, books and records in the face of Britney’s objections.’

She also said that her father failed to notify her that her longtime business manager Lou Taylor resigned and that he appointed a new manager. 

Ingraham claimed the maneuver would result in Spears’ finances being ‘filtered through an accountant hand picked by James and his legal team’. 

‘(The move) is a blatant attempt by James to retain full functional control of her assets,’ Ingham wrote, saying James’ immediate suspension was ‘necessary to protect Britney’. 

Britney's younger sister Jamie-Lynn has also filed to become the custodian of the conservatorship

Britney’s younger sister Jamie-Lynn has also filed to become the custodian of the conservatorship

In his own filings, James Spears argued that he has done his job well, taking the estate from being in debt and facing tens of millions in lawsuits to its current value of over $60million.  

‘Mr. Spears is doing exactly what he is supposed to be doing as conservator of the estate; he should be commended, not suspended,’ one court filing said.          

James Spears did all this, the filing argued, while working hard to restore his daughter ‘to good health, reunite her with her children, and revive her career.’

‘Throughout his service as Conservator, Mr. Spear’s sole motivation has been his unconditional love for his daughter and a fierce desire to protect her from those trying to take advantage of her,’ the filing said.

‘If anything, Mr. Spears should be commended for his long years of diligent and faithful service as conservator.’  

While much of the hearings have been private, in her recent spate of filings, Spears has said she has gotten more privacy than is good for her, arguing that the secrecy has not been helpful, and welcomed the scrutiny of the #FreeBritney movement, which her father has scorned.

Court documents said:  ‘Far from being a conspiracy theory or a “joke” as James reportedly told the media, in large part this scrutiny is a reasonable and even predictable result of James’ aggressive use of the sealing procedure over the years to minimize the amount of meaningful information made available to the public.’

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