Britney Spears’ father fights effort to remove him as conservator
By Julia Jacobs and Liz Day
One day after a lawyer for Britney Spears asked the court to expedite the hearing on whether to remove her father from the conservatorship that has long ruled her life, the singer’s father defended his actions over the past 13 years in a court filing.
James Spears, also known as Jamie, agreed to an accelerated timeline for the hearing, but objected to the effort to suspend him as conservator, arguing that he has taken good care of his daughter and is being blamed for actions undertaken by others with roles in the conservatorship.
Last week, Britney Spears’ lawyer filed a petition to remove her father as conservator of the singer’s estate, a move that was expected after the singer told the court that the arrangement was “abusive” and that her father should be charged with conservatorship abuse. On Thursday, her lawyer asked the court to consider that request earlier, arguing that she is suffering psychologically and financially while her father is in control.
In the court document, filed Friday, James Spears’ lawyer, Vivian Lee Thoreen, wrote that he would agree to moving the hearing date from Sept. 29 to as early as Aug. 23. But she fiercely opposed the assertion by Britney Spears’ lawyer, Mathew S. Rosengart, that James Spears needed to be swiftly removed from the arrangement.
“Mr. Spears has dutifully and faithfully served as the conservator of his daughter’s estate without any blemishes on his record,” Thoreen wrote. “Mr. Spears’ 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 seeks to shift blame to others who have been involved in Britney Spears’ conservatorship, which was requested by James Spears in 2008 amid concerns over the singer’s mental health and potential substance use. It said that Britney Spears’ former court-appointed lawyer, Samuel D. Ingham III, and a professional conservator involved in the arrangement, Jodi Montgomery, were responsible for admitting her to a mental health facility in 2019 — which she told the court she felt forced into.
James Spears’ lawyer said in the filing that he had not been in charge of his daughter’s medical treatment since late 2018.
In a statement Friday, a lawyer for Montgomery — who has had a role in managing Britney Spears’ personal and medical care since September 2019 — disputed James Spears’ account. The lawyer, Lauriann Wright, said that at the time Britney Spears entered the facility, Montgomery was a case manager of the conservatorship, hired by James Spears, and did not have the authority to admit his daughter to such a facility, saying “only Jamie Spears had that power in March 2019.” She added that Britney Spears consented to being admitted to the facility.
James Spears’ court filing also sought to buttress his argument that he played a critical role in supporting his daughter’s mental health, saying that last month, after she made an impassioned plea to the court to allow her to regain control over her life, Montgomery called him to ask for help, expressing “concern about Ms. Spears’ recent behavior and her refusal to listen to or even see her doctors.”
In her statement, Montgomery’s lawyer acknowledged that Montgomery does have concerns about Britney Spears’ “recent behavior and overall mental health,” noting that James Spears’ continued role as conservator was impacting his daughter’s state of mind and urging him to step down. Britney Spears’ medical team and her mother have also said that James Spears’ removal is in his daughter’s best interest, according to court papers.
The statement from Montgomery added that her phone call to James Spears was “made out of genuine concern for Ms. Spears” and was “intended to re-establish a working relationship with Mr. Spears towards Ms. Spears’ mental health and well-being.”
“Ms. Montgomery implores Mr. Spears to stop the attacks,” the statement said, “it does no good; it only does harm.”
As part of Rosengart’s argument against James Spears continuing as conservator, he wrote that despite what he described as his willingness to spend his daughter’s money, he opposed her request in late July to take a brief vacation to Hawaii, calling it “unnecessary.” In the court filing, James Spears disputed that he opposed the vacation.
James Spears has long asserted that his stewardship over his daughter’s life has helped to grow and maintain the singer’s $60 million fortune and prevented her from being taken advantage of by outsiders. But in June, the extent of Britney Spears’ objections to her father’s role became clear when she told the court that he “loved” the control over her life and should be in jail for his actions as conservator.