LOS ANGELES — Britney Spears has finally confirmed what fans have long suspected: She wants out.
Out of her conservatorship, out of her care appointments as currently structured, out of paying the people — presumably her conservators — who tell her “no” all the time.
“I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive,” the pop star said Wednesday during her court appearance via telephone for a hearing in her case. “I want to end the conservatorship without being evaluated.”
Speaking rapidly and occasionally losing her place in her prepared notes, Spears shared her version of the events of the past two years or so, since she last addressed the court.
“I will be honest with you — I haven’t been back to court in a long time because I don’t think I was heard on any level when I came to court,” the singer said, talking about her 2019 appearance at a closed hearing.
Spears said she lied the last time she was in court when she said she was happy.
“Now I’m telling the truth, OK, I’m not happy. I’m so angry it’s insane, and I’m depressed. I cry every day,” she said. All the state of California seemed able to do, she said, was to hire people using her money to complicate her life.
She talked about rehearsals ahead of her canceled Vegas residency where “I wasn’t good — I was great,” teaching 16 dancers at a time. But she said her manager has told a different tale, saying she wasn’t taking her medication and wasn’t cooperating in rehearsals. When she was told she didn’t have to do an upcoming Las Vegas show, she said it was like having “200 pounds” lifted off her.
But a few days later, she said, her doctor put her on lithium, a medication that made her feel “drunk.” And nobody would help her, she said. Rather, there were all sorts of new people in her home, she had no privacy and she wasn’t allowed to leave.
“Not only did my family not do a g— thing,” Spears said, “my dad was all for it. Anything that happened to me had to be approved by my dad,” who she said acted like he didn’t know about any of it. She eventually sat through a psych test, she said, and was told she would have to go to a small rehab facility in Beverly Hills.
Spears said her father “loved the control he had over me” at times. “He loved it.”
She also took issue with how her conservatorship was handling her therapy appointments, saying she was being forced to go into areas where she was “exposed” to paparazzi and the like when she’d rather do therapy at home. She also expressed a desire to have her IUD removed so she could try to have another child, but said her team wouldn’t let her do that.
Spears also said she had been unaware that she had the right to petition to end the conservatorship and apologized for her ignorance. Later, her court-appointed attorney, Samuel Ingham III, said he would do whatever his client requested of him.
The pop star, who has tens of millions of followers on social media and an estimated $60 million in her estate, has been operating under the restrictions of the conservatorship since the beginning of 2008. After she was held twice for mental evaluations following erratic behavior, her father, Jamie Spears, was — at his request — given temporary control over her person and her finances.
The conservatorship was made permanent later that year, despite its unusual nature. Conservatorships — also known as legal guardianships — are designed to protect people who cannot take care of themselves, such as the elderly, infirm and mentally disabled.
But Spears worked almost nonstop for a decade after hers was implemented: Her last public performance was on tour in late 2018, then she pulled out of a potentially lucrative Las Vegas residency in 2019 before it even opened. She said recently on Instagram that she has “no idea” whether she’ll ever perform again.
Spears’ shrouded life, and her mysterious Instagram account, led to the rise of the #FreeBritney movement: a group of supporters who want to end the singer’s conservatorship and raise awareness of conservatorship abuse. Members and other supporters were present outside the courthouse Wednesday.
In recent years, Jamie Spears has had certain responsibilities either taken away from him — like when professional fiduciary Jodi Montgomery took over as Britney Spears’ personal conservator in late 2019 after he had a health emergency — or shared: Bessemer Trust Co. was brought in recently as co-conservator of the singer’s estate.
On Tuesday, the New York Times reported on confidential court documents that showed Britney Spears has been pushing back on had been quietly pushing back against aspects of her conservatorship for years.
Among the article’s revelations: In 2014, at a closed hearing, Ingham said Spears wanted to explore removing her father as conservator due in part to his alleged drinking. In 2016, a court investigator wrote that Spears considered the conservatorship “an oppressive and controlling tool against her.”
And in 2019 — the year Spears abruptly canceled a potentially lucrative Las Vegas residency supposedly so she could be with her ailing father — she told the court that she’d been forced to perform against her will and to enter a mental health facility.