Britney Spears wins freedom as judge ends conservatorship after 13 years

Supporters of singer Britney Spears gather outside the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in Los Angeles on Friday.
PHOTO: Reuters

Calling it her “best day ever,” pop star Britney Spears regained freedom over her life and finances on Friday (Nov 12) when a Los Angeles judge ended the conservatorship that had restricted her for more than 13 years.

“Effective today, the conservatorship of the person and the estate of Britney Jean Spears is hereby terminated,” Judge Brenda Penny said after a hearing.

She added that the current conservator would continue working to settle ongoing financial issues in the case.

The 39-year-old Piece of Me singer had begged the court to terminate the legal arrangement that has governed her personal life and US$60 million (S$81.2 million) estate since 2008.

She did not attend Friday’s hearing in Los Angeles but said in an Instagram post, “I love my fans so much it’s crazy!!! I think I’m gonna cry the rest of the day !!!! Best day ever.”

Fans outside erupted in cheers at the decision and broke into singing her hit Stronger.

“It was a monumental day for Britney Spears,” the pop star’s lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, said outside the courthouse.

The conservatorship was set up and overseen by the singer’s father Jamie after she had a public breakdown and underwent treatment for undisclosed mental health issues.

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Since revealing years of private anguish in tearful testimony in June, Spears has received a groundswell of public support and hired a new lawyer who moved aggressively to end the restrictions. In June, she told the court she had been traumatised and that she wanted her “life back” as soon as possible.

None of those involved in the conservatorship on Friday had opposed the request to end it.

A key question on Friday had been whether Judge Penny might require Spears to undergo a mental health evaluation, a step often taken before ending a conservatorship. She did not do so.

Interest in the case was propelled in the past year by documentaries and the #FreeBritney movement of fans who questioned why the singer lived under restrictions while successfully touring around the world and earning millions of dollars.

Lauriann Wright, the lawyer for Jodi Montgomery, who had been entrusted with overseeing Spears’ personal life, told the judge there was “no reason this termination cannot happen and Ms. Spears cannot live a safe, happy and fulfilling life.”

Rosengart said a “safety net” had been put in place to help Spears transition back to regular life. Judge Penny added that the current conservator should continue working to settle ongoing financial issues in the case.

“I’m shaking,” Leanne Simmons, a fan and one of the organisers of the #FreeBritney movement, said soon after the decision. “It still hasn’t sunk in to hear those words, ‘The conservatorship has been terminated.’ Britney is a free woman.”

Spears is engaged to marry her personal trainer boyfriend, Sam Asghari, but no date has been set. “History was made today. Britney is Free,” Asghari wrote on Instagram.