For 13 years, Britney Spears’ life has been completely controlled by her father and a cast of lawyers after a public mental health crisis that was gleefully documented by the paparazzi. Placed in a rare court-appointed conservatorship, the pop star lost power over her vast fortune and business dealings, a move her father, Jamie Spears, and others argued was necessary to protect her from grifters and other potential pitfalls while she focused on her health.
Since then, Spears has largely stayed silent, even as her fans have grown more restless over a legal situation they think has entrapped a beloved star and enriched her conservators. But on June 23, Spears asked a judge to end her conservatorship, saying, "I just want my life back."
Her virtual appearance before a judge in Los Angeles was the first since the Framing Britney documentary was released, sparking a public reckoning and reexamination of how the then-young pop star was treated in the media.
Here’s the timeline of how Spears got to this point:
Jan. 3, 2008
Spears is hospitalized and placed on a psychiatric hold for a mental evaluation, also known as a “5150 hold,” following a custody dispute with her ex-husband Kevin Federline. When Federline’s bodyguard arrived at her house to pick up their two sons, 2-year-old Sean Preston and Jayden, 1, she reportedly locked herself in a room with Jayden, which was when Los Angeles police were called to her home to mediate.
Jan. 31, 2008
After Spears’ custody rights were suspended because of her initial hospitalization, the pop singer is taken from her home a second time and transported to UCLA Medical Center for another mental evaluation and psychiatric hold. Because of the dangers the paparazzi posed to her at the time, Spears is also escorted by a number of police vehicles so tabloid photographers couldn’t chase her down.
Feb. 1, 2008
Immediately following Spears’ second hospitalization, her father petitions Los Angeles County Superior Court to place her under what was supposed to be a temporary conservatorship. He is then named the conservator, charged with handling her financial and business affairs and making decisions regarding her personal life. Attorney Andrew Wallet is also made a co-conservator of the estate.
Oct. 28, 2008
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Reva Goetz extends Spears’ temporary conservatorship indefinitely, citing the complexity of the singer’s financial and business dealings and her “being susceptible to undue influence.”
Nov. 30, 2008
Britney: For the Record, a documentary about Spears’ life, premieres on MTV. The behind-the-scenes look at her personal life in the aftermath of her public mental health crises, tabloid frenzy, and custody battles also comes days after the release of Circus, her sixth studio album. She also gives fans insight into how she felt about her conservatorship at the time, saying, “If I wasn't under the restraints I'm under right now, with all the lawyers and doctors and people analyzing me every day, if that wasn't there, I'd feel so liberated. When I tell them the way I feel, it's like they hear, but they're really not listening.”
March 29, 2011
Despite being under a conservatorship and considered unable to handle her own affairs, Spears releases her seventh studio album, Femme Fatale.
Dec. 27, 2013
Spears continues working and kicks off her two-year Las Vegas residency, Britney: Piece of Me.
Aug. 16, 2016
Glory, Spears’ ninth album, is released.
Sept. 27, 2016
When Spears filmed an interview on The Jonathan Ross Show in the UK, entertainment reporter Grace Medford says the pop star discussed her conservatorship when talking about making her latest album, Glory. “OK, so I have this conservatorship. I've been under this conservatorship for three years and I felt like a lot of decisions were made for me, so I wanted [Glory] to be my baby and I've been really strategic about it,” Spears said, according to Medford. The interview went on to air on Oct. 1 and did not include this statement from Spears.
Jan. 4, 2019
Originally scheduled to perform another Las Vegas residency, Domination, from February through August of 2019, Spears announces that she will be taking an “indefinite work hiatus” because of her father’s health issues. The performer wrote in an Instagram post that her father was hospitalized and had “almost died” a couple of months prior, and even though he was on the mend, “he still has a long road ahead of him.”
“I’ve been looking forward to this show and seeing all of you this year, so doing this breaks my heart. However, it’s important to always put your family first… and that’s the decision I had to make,” Spears wrote.
March 4, 2019
Wallet, who had been acting as Spears’ co-conservator, voluntarily resigns from the position, leaving Jamie Spears as the sole conservator.
“The conservatorship is engaged in numerous ongoing business activities requiring immediate attention and it therefore is in the best interest of the conservatee that the acceptance of Wallet’s resignation and the issuance of amended letters of conservatorship of the estate occur immediately and without delay,” Wallet said in court documents.
April 23, 2019
In a video and lengthy caption posted to Instagram, Spears addresses fans amid rumors that she had entered a mental health facility in response to her father’s demands.
“I wanted to say hi, because things that are being said have just gotten out of control!!! Wow!!! There’s rumors, death threats to my family and my team, and just so many things crazy things being said. I am trying to take a moment for myself, but everything that’s happening is just making it harder for me. Don’t believe everything you read and hear,” she wrote. “You may not know this about me, but I am strong, and stand up for what I want! Your love and dedication is amazing, but what I need right now is a little bit of privacy to deal with all the hard things that life is throwing my way. If you could do that, I would be forever grateful.”
May 21, 2019
Jamie Spears files a notice of intent to expand the conservatorship beyond the state of California to Louisiana, Hawaii, and Florida.
Aug, 24, 2019
After Jamie Spears allegedly physically attacked one of the singer’s sons, then–13-year-old Sean Preston, during a custody visit, ex-husband Kevin Federline files a police report. Spears’ sons are also granted a restraining order against her father.
May 10, 2019
Britney Spears discusses her conservatorship in a court hearing, but the record is sealed and what she said is never made public.
Sept. 9, 2019
Jamie Spears steps away as conservator citing health reasons and Jodi Montgomery temporarily replaces him.
July 12, 2020
Photographer Andrew Gallery posts a viral TikTok about a letter Spears allegedly wrote about the conservatorship when he worked for her.
July 23, 2020
As speculation mounts and the #FreeBritney movement gains steam, Spears’ brother, Bryan, speaks out about the conservatorship on the As NOT Seen on TV Podcast. “She’s always wanted to get out of it. It’s very frustrating to have... Whether someone’s coming in peace to help or coming in with an attitude, having someone constantly tell you to do something has got to be frustrating. She’s wanted to get out of it for quite some time.”
Aug. 19, 2020
The American Civil Liberties Union tweets about Spears’ ongoing legal battle with her father, writing, “People with disabilities have a right to lead self-directed lives and retain their civil rights. If Britney Spears wants to regain her civil liberties and get out of her conservatorship, we are here to help her.”
Aug. 21, 2020
A Los Angeles judge extends the conservatorship until February 2021.
Aug. 31, 2020
Jamie Spears withdraws his petition to reappoint Wallet as co-conservator.
Sept. 3, 2020
Britney Spears files an objection to another court filing in the case being sealed, saying, “The world is watching.”
“Britney's conservatorship has attracted an unprecedented level of scrutiny from mainstream media and social media alike,” the filing states. “Far from being a conspiracy theory or a ‘joke’ as James [Jamie Spears] reportedly told the media, in large part this scrutiny is a reasonable and even predictable result of James’ aggressive use of the sealing procedure over the years to minimize the amount of meaningful information made available to the public.”
Oct. 5, 2020
Jamie Spears withdraws his petition to reappoint Wallet as co-conservator.
Bessemer Trust is appointed a co-conservator of the estate, but Britney Spears’ request to suspend Jamie as conservator is denied. This despite her attorney telling the court that the pop singer was afraid of her father
“My client has informed me that she is afraid of her father,” attorney Samuel D. Ingham III told the judge, Variety reported. “She will not perform again if her father is in charge of her career.”
Dec. 16, 2020
According to court documents, the conservatorship is extended through September 2021.
Feb. 5, 2021
The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears premiers on FX and Hulu, renewing massive public interest in the pop star’s conservatorship and shining a spotlight on the way she was treated in the media while dealing with struggles relating to her mental health.
Entertainment Tonight also reports that Spears’ court-appointed lawyer, Samuel D. Ingham III, claimed in court documents that it would be “highly detrimental to Britney’s interest” for her father to have any more power or control over her estate.
Feb. 9, 2021
Sam Asghari, Spears’ current boyfriend, writes about her father in an Instagram story: “Now it’s important for people to understand that I have zero respect for someone trying to control our relationship and constantly throwing obstacles our way. In my opinion, Jamie is a total dick. I won’t be going into details because I’ve always respected our privacy but at the same time, I didn’t come to this country [from Iran] to not be able to express my opinion and freedom.”
March 25, 2021
Britney Spears’ lawyer requests Montgomery permanently replace the pop star’s father. The petition also states that Spears “expressly reserves the right to petition for termination of this conservatorship.”
March 30, 2021
In a now-deleted Instagram post, Spears writes a lengthy caption about her reaction to the Framing Britney Spears documentary. “It takes a lot of strength to TRUST the universe with your real vulnerability cause I've always been so judged...insulted...and embarrassed by the media...and I still am till this day!!!!” she wrote. “I didn't watch the [whole] documentary but from what I did see of it, I was embarrassed by the light they put me in... I cried for two weeks and well....I still cry sometimes !!!!”
April 28, 2021
In a court hearing, Ingham asks permission for Spears to address the court directly about her conservatorship. Judge Brenda Penny agrees and sets the date for June 23.
June 23, 2021
Speaking in a public court hearing for the first time, Spears asked Judge Brenda Penny to end her conservatorship, calling it “abusive,” "demoralizing," and "embarrassing.” In a virtual appearance in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Spears made a number of shocking revelations, including that the conservatorship has prevented her from getting married, having another child, and making a doctor’s appointment ro remove her IUD. Spears also said she objected to the conservatorship's mandatory twice-weekly in-person sessions but that she’s willing to see a therapist once a week at her home.
The pop singer also said her court-appointed attorney previously advised her not to come forward with her claims regarding her conservatorship and she asked the judge for the ability to choose her own lawyer.
July 1, 2021
Bessemer Trust filed a petition to resign from Spears’ conservatorship, stating it had “heard the Conservatee and respects her wishes."
July 6, 2021
Samuel Ingham III requested to be dismissed as Spears’ court-appointed attorney in paperwork filed with the court.
July 14, 2021
Judge Penny ruled Spears was allowed to choose her own lawyer to represent her interests in her conservatorship case. Penny also approved Ingham’s resignation and Spears’ newly appointed lawyer Matthew Rosengart, a former federal prosecutor known for representing celebrity clients like Steven Spielberg, Sean Penn, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
July 26, 2021
Spears officially requested the court remove her father as her conservator with the support of Montgomery, current conservator of her life and medical team, and her mother Lynne Spears. In court documents, Spears requested to replace her father with Jason Rubin, a professional fiduciary and forensic accountant.
Aug. 31, 2021
Rosengart accused Spears’ father of trying to extort the pop singer for about $2 million in a court filing. "Regardless of the past, Mr. Spears and his counsel are now on notice: the status quo is no longer tolerable, and Britney Spears will not be extorted," Rosengart wrote. "Mr. Spears’s blatant attempt to barter suspension and removal in exchange for approximately $2 million in payments, on top of the millions already reaped from Ms. Spears’s estate by Mr. Spears and his associates, is a non-starter."
Sept. 7, 2021
Spears’ father filed a petition in court to end her conservatorship. In the documents, his attorney wrote that if Spears "believes that she can handle her own life," then her father "believes she should get that chance."