Behind the Scenes, Britney Spears Has Spent Years Fighting to Be Free of Her ‘Toxic’ Dad

Documents obtained by the New York Times reveal that the pop star has aired a ”shopping list” of complaints about her father’s role in her conservatorship

While Britney Spears has tried to remain publicly quiet about the 13 years she’s spent under a conservatorship controlled by her father, Jamie Spears, confidential court documents obtained by the New York Times reveal the pop star has been privately struggling to get out from under his thumb for at least the last seven years.

Britney—who will appear via Zoom in Los Angeles County probate court Wednesday to speak openly about her conservatorship for the first time—was challenging Jamie’s fitness to oversee her and her estimated $60 million fortune as far back as 2014. In a closed-door hearing at the time, her court-appointed lawyer, Samuel D. Ingham III, said the singer wanted to explore ending her father’s rule, citing his drinking, plus a “shopping list” of other complaints, records show.

Last year, Ingham told a judge that his client “was afraid of her father”—a recovering alcoholic who has been accused of physical and verbal abuse. The charge echoed an earlier report by a probate investigator, in which Britney said her father was “obsessed” with her, in that he wanted to control every aspect of her life. She also said the she couldn’t make friends without Jamie’s approval, and was kept on a $2,000 weekly allowance despite making millions from her Las Vegas residency, according to the documents.

Britney said her father was “obsessed” with her, in that he wanted to control every aspect of her life.

Britney added that disappointing her father resulted in “very harsh” consequences, and that the conservatorship “comes with a lot of fear.”

Although the investigator concluded in 2016 that the conservatorship was in Britney’s best interests her due to her complex finances, susceptibility to undue influence, and “intermittent” drug issues, the report also called for “a pathway to independence and the eventual termination of the conservatorship.”

Court records also show that Britney has previously raised the issue of her father’s drinking, to no avail.

Britney’s first tour under the conservatorship—The Circus Starring Britney Spears—was supposed to be a dry one, meaning no liquor or even energy drinks around the singer. But in a 2010 legal letter threatening a lawsuit, a former nanny and housekeeper for Britney accused Jamie of “verbal abuse, tirades, inappropriate behavior, and alcoholic relapses” during that time.

In 2014, Ingram told the court that Britney believed her father was drinking again. Lawyers for the conservatorship said Jamie had submitted to regular alcohol tests and had never failed.

When Ingram countered that Jamie had submitted to just one test and had refused to take any more, the judge replied, “Absolutely inappropriate. And who is she to be demanding that of anybody?”

According to a court transcript, Ingram told the judge that Britney had predicted that outcome:

“She said to me, when she gave me this shopping list, that she anticipates that, as it has been done before, the court will simply sweep it under the carpet and ignore any negative inferences with regard to Mr. Spears.”

The judge then said she would consider ending the conservatorship if Britney developed a healthy relationship with a therapist and stayed clean for a year.

Britney again raised issues in 2016, telling a court investigator she was “very angry” with constant drug tests, guards and assistants controlling her credit cards, and that her father even refused to let her touch up her kitchen cabinets.

In 2019, after canceling her Las Vegas residency, Britney claimed she had been placed in a mental facility on exaggerated charges because she made an objection during a rehearsal, and that she had been forced to perform while suffering a 104 fever, according to a court transcript.

In 2020, Ingram filed court papers saying Britney “is vehemently opposed to this effort by her father to keep her legal struggle hidden away in the closet as a family secret.” In a separate filing that year, Ingram told the court Britney was still concerned with Jamie’s financial judgment, claiming he had paid excessive fees of $300,000 to the firm of her then-business manager—fees Jamie’s lawyer called “reasonable.”

Last November, Britney’s mother, Lynne Spears, told the court through a lawyer that the relationship between daughter and father was “toxic,” and that Jamie had referred to Britney as “a racehorse who has to be handled like one.”

Jamie declined to comment to the Times but his lawyers have previously stated that although Britney could have filed to end the arrangement at any time, she never has.

Meanwhile, Britney still has to pay for everyone’s lawyers. A recent bill for about four months of work from just one of Jamie’s legal teams came in at $890,000—including charges for their media strategy in defense of the conservatorship.

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