Britney Spears’s father has been suspended from his role overseeing the pop superstar’s estate and the conservatorship controlling her life could be terminated by the end of the year, a US court heard.
A judge in Los Angeles said Jamie Spears remaining in charge of his daughter’s money was no longer tenable.
He had held the role since 2008, when Spears, 39, was deemed unfit to look after herself after suffering a series of mental breakdowns.
She had been pleading for her father to be ousted from the conservatorship – a complex legal arrangement usually reserved for the very old or infirm – and got her wish on Wednesday.
Jamie, 69, was ordered to turn over the relevant documents to John Zabel, a certified public accountant, who has been appointed temporary conservator of the singer’s $60m (£45m) estate until December 31.
Jamie’s legal team had forcefully argued against his suspension, instead claiming termination of the arrangement was the correct course.
However, judge Brenda Penny said after hearing from both sides, the elder Spears being suspended was in the “best interests” of the singer.
The historic moment was celebrated wildly by members of the #FreeBritney movement who had gathered outside Los Angeles Superior Court.
Spears, 39, was not in court while her father participated virtually and was represented by his lawyer, Vivian Thoreen.
Reacting to the news on social media, Spears said she was “on cloud 9 right now” while sharing a video showing her at the controls of a plane.
A hearing to discuss the termination of the conservatorship was set for November 12.
During a heated hearing on Wednesday, Mathew S Rosengart, Spears’s newly appointed lawyer, argued forcefully for Jamie’s removal, demanding an end to the “Kafka-esque nightmare” his client was suffering.
The elder Spears remaining involved with the conservatorship was “toxic and untenable”, he said, and his daughter would be “extraordinarily distraught” if he stayed in the post.
“He must be suspended today,” Mr Rosengart told the court, “not because a lawyer is arguing it but because Britney Spears is pleading for it.
“Sometimes judges are asked to make very hard decisions. This is not such a decision. This is not such a case. This is a very easy decision.”
Mr Rosengart said the Spears estate was being run into the ground while her father was in charge and reiterated the singer would not perform again with him in control.
And he alleged Jamie wanted the conservatorship wound up to avoid having his files closely examined.
“What he is afraid of is the revelation of his corruption,” Mr Rosengart said.
He also issued a strident defence of California-based accountant Mr Zabel, who had been accused by Jamie’s lawyers of being unqualified.
The new conservator was nationally recognised and award-winning, Mr Rosengart said, especially compared to Jamie who he said had a history of gambling and alcohol issues.
Mr Rosengart said it was essential the conservatorship was terminated but only in an “orderly fashion”. Jamie’s immediate suspension was of paramount importance, he said.
He discussed at length allegations featured in a recent documentary which claimed the singer was secretly recorded in her bedroom and conversations with her two sons and boyfriend were taped.
Ms Thoreen said she “vehemently” contested the “unsubstantiated” claims.
She also defended her client’s “impeccable” record as conservator.
He had only ever worked in his daughter’s best interests, the court heard, and was keen to resume contact with her.
Jodi Montgomery remains conservator of Spears’s personal affairs.
What has been described as the world’s most famous conservatorship was catapulted back into the public eye earlier this year following the release of documentary Framing Britney Spears.
It explored her treatment at the hands of the paparazzi and the terms of her conservatorship.
In June, Spears delivered bombshell testimony in open court, demanding the end of the “abusive” arrangement.
Among the allegations made during a shocking 23-minute speech were claims she was being forced to use a contraceptive device to prevent her having more children and was unable to marry.
The following month Spears returned to court and called for her father to be prosecuted for conservator abuse.
It was at that hearing Mr Rosengart was appointed and promised to take a more aggressive approach to ending the conservatorship.
Spears, who has sold almost 150 million records worldwide, remains one of the biggest stars in pop but has not performed live since 2018.
She was married to backing dancer Kevin Federline from 2004-2007. He is the father of her sons Sean Preston, 16, and 15-year-old Jayden.
The singer recently announced her engagement to 27-year-old actor and fitness expert Sam Asghari.
Asghari celebrated Jamie’s suspension on Instagram, writing: “Free Britney! Congratulations.”