Jamie Lynn Spears Said She Threatened To File For Emancipation During Her Teen Pregnancy After She Was “Banished” Into Isolation And Denied Any Independence By Her Parents
“My family denied my attempts to be independent and left me with no other choice than to threaten to file for emancipation with the courts. I spent days agonizing with my pending decision. But I followed my gut and instructed my new lawyer to go ahead and draw up the petition.”
Jamie Lynn Spears is opening up about her difficult experiences throughout her teen pregnancy in her upcoming memoir, Things I Should Have Said.
Jamie Lynn — who has recently faced criticism for her alleged lack of support for her sister, Britney Spears, while she’s struggled under the terms of her conservatorship — became pregnant back in 2007, when she was 16 years old.
BuzzFeed News uncovered abuse, neglect, and death across the guardianship industry. Read our investigative series "Beyond Britney" here.
She starred in the teen sitcom Zoey 101 for a few years before she became pregnant, after which she disappeared from the public eye. Eventually, OK! magazine broke the news of Jamie Lynn’s pregnancy, following her team’s decision to give them the first images of the baby in an exclusive agreement.
Now, in her upcoming memoir — which is due to be released early next year — Jamie Lynn says that she struggled under her parents’ control during her pregnancy, to the point that she threatened to file for legal separation as a minor.
Recalling the moment that her parents told her team about the pregnancy, Jamie Lynn writes that “things spiraled out of control pretty quickly.”
“There was a whole lot of fighting going on between everyone involved,” she writes, in an excerpt obtained by People. “My family and management pulled me out of school until they could figure out what to do next. They took my smartphone away, fearing the news would get out, and insisted that no one share any information with anyone, especially the press. My daddy and I stopped speaking and the tension was terrible.”
Jamie Lynn claims that her parents and team repeatedly tried to convince her to consider abortion. However, she says, this only “reinforced” her decision to keep the baby.
“Everyone had their own opinion about what was best for me,” she writes. “There was lots of chatter, but none of it felt right to me. ‘It will kill your career. You are just too young. You don't know what you're doing. There are pills you can take. We can help you take care of this problem. Think about what you're doing to your family. Doesn't the family have enough to deal with? I know a doctor. There are procedures that remedy mistakes like this. You don't have to do this.’”
Jamie Lynn goes on to claim that her parents, Jamie Spears and Lynn Spears, pushed to give her baby up for adoption at a “home for unwed mothers” and fought with her when she decided against this too.
“The next option was for me to go to Mercy Ministries, a home for unwed mothers in Tennessee, where I could eventually give up my baby for adoption,” she writes. “Daddy and I fought, slinging words and tossing insults. He grabbed me by the shoulders and held on tightly in the hopes of bending me to his will. I got in his face and yelled, ‘NO! I won't go.’”
The Zoey 101 alum claimed that after deciding against abortion and adoption, her parents kept the pregnancy a secret from everyone — including her own sister — and cut off all of her communication with the outside world.
“Home felt like a prison without a smartphone or connection to the outside world,” she writes. “My team believed everyone outside of the inner circle was a potential threat. They went so far as hiding my pregnancy from my sister, claiming, ‘It's too risky to tell Britney about the baby.’ I needed her more than ever and she wasn't able [to] help me in my most vulnerable time.”
As a result, Jamie Lynn claims that she was “banished” into hiding in an undisclosed location, before recalling her alleged “painful” isolation.
She writes that she and her mother "drove for what felt like hours" to the location where they remained in a cabin for several days to avoid the paparazzi. Jamie Lynn adds that, to this day, she's unsure where in the Northeast they actually were.
Eventually, Jamie Lynn gave birth to her daughter, Maddie, and her pregnancy became public knowledge. At this point, the actor writes, she’d hoped to move out of her parents’ house and marry her boyfriend at the time, to raise their baby together.
And after her parents allegedly declined her request to live independently, Jamie Lynn says that she threatened to file for emancipation — which is when a minor is legally freed from control by their parents or guardians — at just 16 years old.
“The only way [to raise my baby and be happy] was to move out from underneath my parents' roof and be on my own,” she writes. “Resistance to this idea came quickly from all fronts. My momma and daddy thought I was being foolish.”
“My family denied my attempts to be independent and left me with no other choice than to threaten to file for emancipation with the courts,” she says. "I spent days agonizing with my pending decision. But I followed my gut and instructed my new lawyer to go ahead and draw up the petition."
“The following Saturday morning, my lawyer and I showed up and served my momma with papers,” she writes. "Daddy was gone at that point, and Momma contacted the team to discuss the issues. They had real concerns about me marrying my boyfriend and giving him access to all of my earnings."
However, Jamie Lynn said that she ultimately decided against going through with the emancipation, in order to avoid more negative press around the Spears family amid concern for Britney’s well-being.
Jamie Lynn’s memoir comes in the wake of criticism surrounding both of her parents, for their alleged treatment of Britney Spears — which came to light after the pop star publicly denounced them in a court hearing in June.
In a devastating testimony, Spears accused her entire family — including Jamie Lynn — of doing “nothing” to help her throughout the course of her conservatorship, which came into effect in 2008, and saw her life and finances legally controlled by her father and lawyers.
“My dad and anyone involved in this conservatorship and my management who played a key role in punishing me — ma’am, they should be in jail,” Spears said during the hearing. "This conservatorship has allowed my dad to ruin my life."
Spears’ family remains at the focus of public interest ahead of Friday’s long-awaited court hearing, which could bring the termination of the conservatorship after 13 years.
Jamie Lynn's book, Things I Should Have Said, will be released on Jan. 18, 2022. You can read the full excerpt from the memoir here.
Correction: Jamie Lynn Spears starred in Zoey 101 for four years. A previous version of this post misstated the timeline.