Jamie Spears, father of pop superstar Britney Spears, has announced his intentions to step down from his role as financial conservator over his daughter’s estate. The news—couched in the heavy layers of legally worded passive aggression that have been a hallmark of the various non-Britney camps fighting it out for control over her life over the last several years—comes as the controversial legal arrangement that dictates her personal, medical, and financial decisions has come under increased public scrutiny of late. The elder Spears has served as either his daughter’s personal or financial conservator (and, generally, both), with wide power over the vast majority of aspects of her life, for more than 13 years at this point.
This latest round of criticism gained new vigor in the wake of Britney Spears’ own testimony in open court in June, the first time the musician had spoken publicly about the arrangement in years. Among other things, Spears called out her father specifically, stating that, ““he loved the control he had over me, one hundred thousand percent.” Spears’ various lawyers—first, the court-appointed Samuel Ingham, and now Mathew S. Rosengart (the first lawyer Spears has been allowed to choose for herself in more than a decade) have filed motions on her behalf asking for Jamie Spears to be removed from his positions of power over his daughter’s life, requests that Jamie Spears’ camp has responded to by repeatedly playing the “Daddy just wants what’s best for his baby girl” defense, in case the layers of patriarchal bullshit surrounding Spears’ conservatorship weren’t already pungent enough.
And, indeed, Spears’ statement today starts by treading similar grounds: Per TMZ, his legal filings stated that “There are, in fact, no actual grounds for suspending or removing Mr. Spears as the Conservator of the Estate ... and it is highly debatable whether a change in conservator at this time would be in Ms. Spears’ best interests.” But:
Nevertheless, even as Mr. Spears is the unremitting target of unjustified attacks, he does not believe that a public battle with his daughter over his continuing service as her conservator would be in her best interests. So, even though he must contest this unjustified Petition for his removal, Mr. Spears intends to work with the Court and his daughter’s new attorney to prepare for an orderly transition to a new conservator.
(Spears’ lawyers also took some time out to also sling some mud at his ex-wife Lynn Spears, accusing her of abandoning their daughter during recent mental health struggles, because of course he did.)
It’s not clear, as yet, who will serve as Spears’ new financial conservator, a position that holds huge power over the use of her multi-million dollar fortune, if and when Jamie Spears steps down. (One might hope this would simply signal the end of the whole arrangement, but that process remains slow, and apparently ongoing.) Bessemer Trust, which has served as Jamie Spears’ co-conservator on the estate, asked to be withdrawn from that position a few weeks ago, as the controversy around the whole situation only built. Spears’ personal conservatorship, meanwhile—which manages the day-to-day affairs of her life—is still in the hands of a woman named Jodi Montgomery, who took on the role after Jamie Spears suffered health problems a few years back. (Montgomery and Jamie Spears have, of course, also attacked each other in the press and courts in the last few months, although Britney Spears’ relationship to Montgomery has been difficult to parse.)
As always, there’s a thick layer of obfuscation and self-interest surrounding every aspect of this story, especially since Spears herself has often had her social media and legal channels controlled by outside forces. But a simple fact is clear: She has repeatedly made it clear that she wants her father far away from her finances, and that now appears to be happening. It’s hard not to see that as a victory.