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Explained: How Britney Spears filed documents to remove father James as official guardian

·5 min read

Britney Spears' new attorney petitioned Monday to oust her father from the conservatorship that has controlled her life and money for 13 years and replace him with a professional accountant.

Matthew Rosengart said in documents filed in Los Angeles Superior court that the current legal arrangement "has grown increasingly toxic and is simply no longer tenable."

He proposed that James Spears be replaced with CPA Jason Rubin as conservator of the pop star's estate, which documents say equates to $2.7 million in cash and more than $57 million in assets.

Rosengart said in the filing that before he sought to end the conservatorship, he was first addressing "the most pressing issue facing Ms Spears: removing Mr Spears as conservator of the estate."

"Any father who genuinely loves his daughter and has her best interests at heart should willingly step aside in favour of the highly respected professional fiduciary nominated here," Rosengart said in the documents.

What followed after James Spears stepped down?

Lynne Spears, Britney's mother and James' ex-wife, said in a declaration supporting Rosengart's filing that his "microscopic control" over her health care and business decisions in a key period in 2018 and 2019 was especially damaging.

"Such scrutiny is exhausting and terrifying, like living in custody," Lynne Spears said.

James Spears stepped down as the so-called conservator of the person for his daughter in 2019, ceding control of her life decisions and health care to court-appointed professional Jodie Montgomery while maintaining control of her finances.

A message sent seeking comment from James Spears and his legal team was not immediately returned. But at a 14 July hearing, his attorney Vivian Thoreen said he would not be stepping down and he has only ever been motivated by his daughter's best interests.

Thoreen said Britney Spears had many inaccurate beliefs, among them that "her father is responsible for all the bad things that have happened to her."

Judge Brenda Penny gave Britney Spears permission to hire an attorney of her choice at that hearing, when for the second straight time the singer publicly assailed the conservatorship that has been in place since 2008, breaking into tears as she described the "cruelty" it subjected her to.

"My dad needs to be removed today," she said, adding that she would like to see him charged with abusing his position.

Penny has not yet shown any inclination to remove James Spears, and it is not the first time an attorney for Britney Spears has sought her father's ouster.

A contentious past

Last year, Rosengart's court-appointed predecessor, Samuel Ingham III, proposed that James Spears be replaced with estate-management firm The Bessemer Trust. Penny instead ruled that Jamie Spears and the firm should work in tandem, but Bessemer bowed out of the arrangement before it formally began.

Ingham resigned after the dramatic June hearing when the pop star publicly decried the conservatorship for the first time, telling Penny: "I just want my life back."

A hearing to address Rosengart's petition and other issues in the conservatorship is scheduled for 29 September.

Mathew Rosengart, who was appointed as the pop star's attorney this month, had pledged to move swiftly to remove Jamie Spears after the singer delivered two emotional testimonies to a Los Angeles court labelling the conservatorship as "cruelty."

"If the court doesn't see this as abuse... I don't know what is," said Spears, 39, telling the court via telephone earlier this month that she wanted her father removed and to "press charges" against him.

The court battles

The Los Angeles Superior Court website on Monday listed a new petition to "Appoint Conservator of Estate (Successor)", and California-based accountant Jason Rubin is listed as "Nominee."

Rosengart argued in the petition that as a recent judge's ruling found "Ms Spears has sufficient capacity to choose her own legal counsel, she likewise has sufficient capacity to make this nomination," The New York Times reported.

At a brief hearing later Monday, Judge Brenda Penny said she will rule in late September on the bid to remove Jamie Spears from control of an estate estimated to be worth $60 million.

Jamie Spears' removal has been a longstanding demand of devoted global fans campaigning under the #FreeBritney slogan.

Spears was placed under a unique legal guardianship largely governed by her father after she suffered a highly public 2007 breakdown.

But the 'Toxic' singer has become increasingly vocal and public in opposing the conservatorship since emotional court testimonies and social media posts in which she slammed the system as "cruelty" and accused her father and others of profiting from the system.

Spears alleged in court that she had been prevented from having a contraceptive IUD removed, despite wanting more children, and forcefully put on medication that made her feel "drunk."

She recently wrote on Instagram that she was "not gonna be performing on any stages anytime soon with my dad handling what I wear, say, do, or think."

Following a 14 July hearing, Rosengart told AFP his team would be "filing a petition as soon as possible to move Mr Spears," while also calling on the singer's father to step down voluntarily.

But Jamie Spears' lawyer told the court he would not be standing down, and disputed Britney Spears' account of the conservatorship.

A previous petition to remove Jamie Spears from his role last year was rejected by the judge.

A court hearing has been set for 29 September.

Also See: Britney Spears calls out father, explains suspending live performances: 'Conservatorship killed my dreams'

Britney Spears allowed to appoint her own lawyer in conservatorship case; know what lies ahead for the singer

Explained: How Britney Spears’ conservatorship fight prompted legislative action in the US

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