Britney Spears’s Father Fights Effort to Remove Him as Conservator

NYT Music

One day after a lawyer for Britney Spears asked the court to expedite the hearing on whether to remove her father from the conservatorship that has long ruled her life, the singer’s father defended his actions over the past 13 years in a court filing.

James P. Spears agreed to an accelerated timeline for the hearing, but objected to the effort to suspend him as conservator, arguing that he has taken good care of his daughter and is being blamed for actions undertaken by others with roles in the conservatorship.

Last week, Ms. Spears’s lawyer filed a petition to remove her father as conservator of the singer’s estate, a move that was expected after Ms. Spears told the court the arrangement was “abusive” and that her father should be charged with conservatorship abuse. On Thursday, her lawyer asked the court to consider that request earlier, arguing that Ms. Spears is suffering psychologically and financially while her father is in control.

In the court document, filed on Friday, Mr. Spears’s lawyer, Vivian Lee Thoreen, wrote that he would agree to moving the hearing date from Sept. 29 to as early as Aug. 23. But she fiercely opposed the assertion by Ms. Spears’s lawyer, Mathew S. Rosengart, that Mr. Spears needed to be swiftly removed from the arrangement.

“Mr. Spears has dutifully and faithfully served as the conservator of his daughter’s estate without any blemishes on his record,” Ms. Thoreen wrote. “Mr. Spears’s sole motivation has been his unconditional love for his daughter and a fierce desire to protect her from those trying to take advantage of her.”

The filing seeks to shift blame to others who have been involved in Ms. Spears’s conservatorship, which was requested by Mr. Spears in 2008 amid concerns over Ms. Spears’s mental health and potential substance use. It said that Ms. Spears’s former court-appointed lawyer, Samuel D. Ingham III, and a professional conservator involved in the arrangement, Jodi Montgomery, were responsible for admitting Ms. Spears to a mental health facility in 2019 — which Ms. Spears told the court she felt forced into.

Mr. Spears’s lawyer said in the filing that he had not been in charge of his daughter’s medical treatment since late 2018.

In a statement on Friday, a lawyer for Ms. Montgomery — who has had a role in managing Ms. Spears’s personal and medical care since September 2019 — disputed Mr. Spears’s account. The lawyer, Lauriann Wright, said that at the time Ms. Spears entered the facility, Ms. Montgomery was a case manager of the conservatorship, hired by Mr. Spears, and did not have the authority to admit Ms. Spears to such a facility, saying “only Jamie Spears had that power in March 2019.” She added that Ms. Spears consented to being admitted to the facility.

Mr. Spears’s court filing also sought to buttress his argument that he played a critical role in supporting his daughter’s mental health, saying that last month, after Ms. Spears made an impassioned plea to the court to allow her to regain control over her life, Ms. Montgomery called him to ask for help, expressing “concern about Ms. Spears’s recent behavior and her refusal to listen to or even see her doctors.”

In her statement, Ms. Montgomery’s lawyer acknowledged that Ms. Montgomery does have concerns about Ms. Spears’s “recent behavior and overall mental health,” noting that Mr. Spears’s continued role as conservator was impacting Ms. Spears’s state of mind and urging him to step down. Ms. Spears’s medical team and her mother have also said that Mr. Spears’s removal is in Ms. Spears’s best interest, according to court papers.

The statement from Ms. Montgomery added that her phone call to Mr. Spears was “made out of genuine concern for Ms. Spears” and was “intended to re-establish a working relationship with Mr. Spears towards Ms. Spears’s mental health and well-being.”

“Ms. Montgomery implores Mr. Spears to stop the attacks,” the statement said, “it does no good; it only does harm.”

As part of Mr. Rosengart’s argument against Mr. Spears continuing as conservator, he wrote that despite what he described as Mr. Spears’s willingness to spend his daughter’s money, he opposed her request in late July to take a brief vacation to Hawaii, calling it “unnecessary.” In the court filing, Mr. Spears disputed that he opposed the vacation.

Mr. Spears has long asserted that his stewardship over his daughter’s life has helped to grow and maintain the singer’s $60 million fortune and prevented her from being taken advantage of by outsiders. But in June, the extent of Ms. Spears’s objections to her father’s role became clear when she told the court that he “loved” the control over her life and should be in jail for his actions as conservator.


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