Britney Spears’ lawyer says she fears her father and will not resume her career while he has power over it.
This week, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny decided not to suspend James Spears from his central role in the legal conservatorship that has controlled his daughter’s life and career for 12 years.
However, the judge said she would consider future petitions for his suspension or outright removal, which the pop singer’s lawyer, Samuel Ingham, plans to bring to court in the future.
“My client has informed me that she is afraid of her father,” Mr Ingham told the judge.
“She will not perform again if her father is in charge of her career.”
Spears has been on an indefinite work hiatus since early 2019.
Mr Spears’ attorney, Vivian Lee Thoreen, defended what she said was a perfect record in his role as manager of her finances and personal affairs.
Under his management, she said he paid off his daughter’s debts and increased her net worth to more than $60 million.
Ms Thoreen argued that the disruption caused by his removal would impact negatively on Spears.
“I don’t believe there is a shred of evidence to support my client’s suspension,” she said.
Ms Thoreen also objected to Mr Ingham’s statements about the tense family relationship as inadmissible hearsay.
Mr Spears stepped down temporarily from that role last year, citing health reasons, and his daughter has requested that his temporary replacement, Jodi Montgomery, be made permanent.
The judge did approve one of Spears’ requests, appointing corporate trust management company the Bessemer Trust to serve as co-conservator over her estate along with her father.
But, in documents requesting Mr Spears’ suspension, Spears said her father had no intention of working with the Bessemer Trust as co-conservator and that he meant “to retain full functional control of her assets, books and records in the face of Britney’s objections”.
Mum backs pop star’s call for control over her life
Mr Spears’ attorneys said his “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”.
However, Spears’ mother and Mr Spears’ ex-wife Lynne Spears has sided with her daughter and said she should not be forced to obey her father’s unreasonable demands, calling their relationship “toxic”.
Ms Spears’ lawyer said she had no ill will toward her ex-husband, but thought it was “time to start fresh” and remove him.
The conservatorship, known in many states as a guardianship, began in 2008 when Spears was suffering from serious mental struggles.
The arrangements are normally limited to people with severely diminished ability to make decisions for themselves and are meant to be temporary, but Spears, 38, has remained under court control longer than anyone expected.
Mr Ingham called her a “high-functioning conservatee” who deserved notice of the actions her father was taking, which he has declined to provide.
Mr Ingham said Spears had not spoken to her father in a very long time, but Ms Thoreen said that was because Spears’ lawyer had prevented it.
Spears has acknowledged that the conservatorship was necessary when it began and probably saved her career and she remained silent both in public and in court for nearly all of its existence, with her attorney acting mostly as a neutral observer.
But starting in August she began publicly seeking to choose who had power over her, asking for greater transparency in the court’s often secret moves and even declaring that she was sympathetic to fans who have increasingly demanded her freedom in protests and online posts using the hashtag #FreeBritney.
Dozens of those fans protested outside the downtown Los Angeles courthouse this week and a few, wearing #FreeBritney face masks, sat in the courtroom, which was sparsely attended because of coronavirus spacing guidelines.