Britney Spears' Father Jamie Is Suspended as Conservator of Her Estate After 13 Years
One week after Britney's attorney Mathew Rosengart asked the court to suspend Jamie, 69, and formally appoint a temporary successor, Judge Brenda Penny did so on Wednesday in Los Angeles, swapping Jamie for John Zabel.
"[This decision is] in the best interest of the conservatee, which is my goal," Penny said. Zabel will tentatively hold the post as temporary conservator until Dec. 31.
Rosengart, who was present in court, accused Jamie Spears of being "cruel" and "abusive" toward Britney, and noted that his client "wants," "needs" and "deserves an orderly transition."
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He also made note of a 2019 restraining order that Britney's two teen sons, Sean Preston, 16, and Jayden James, 15, were granted against their grandfather. Later, he told the court, "I believe we'll find evidence of his corruption."
"This man does not belong in her life for another day," Rosengart said. "He must be suspended today. Britney Spears is pleading for it. This is a very easy decision. ... My client will be so extraordinarily distraught if Mr. Spears remains conservator for one more day. ... If he cares about his daughter, he will resign today."
Vivian Thoreen, Jamie Spears' attorney, added, "Mr. Spears has not talked to his daughter in many months, but he'd love to. ... Everything Jamie has done is in [Britney's] best interest."
Both Jamie and Britney's mother, Lynne Spears, called into the hearing via audio, while Thoreen appeared through web video.
Shortly after the suspension became public, Britney's fiancé Sam Asghari posted, "Free Britney! Congratulations!!!" to his Instagram Story.
Jamie Spears' lawyer had previously questioned the experience and ability of Zabel, claiming in court documents that he is "not a licensed professional fiduciary" and "is a stranger to this Court."
Rosengart, in turn, argued that Zabel is "a highly-esteemed, nationally-recognized award-winning CPA with an impeccable record of serving in positions of trust" who "will also be supported by Ms. Spears' business management and forensic accounting teams."
The development in Spears' journey to regain independence comes weeks after Rosengart and Jamie Spears both officially filed to end her conservatorship, with each claiming that it no longer served a purpose and should be terminated immediately.
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While Rosengart had pushed to have Jamie suspended, Jamie asked the court in August to allow him to step down as his 39-year-old daughter's estate conservator as opposed to being suspended. On Monday, Jamie requested that Britney's petition for a temporary conservator be denied, in part because he and his legal team expected the conservatorship to end soon.
"Mr. Spears continues to serve faithfully as Conservator of the Estate, as he has done for the past 13 years. Mr. Spears has not and should not be suspended, especially since the Conservatorship should soon be terminated," Jamie's lawyer said in the filing.
Meanwhile, in court filings requesting Jamie be removed, Rosengart painted him as a controlling presence in Britney's life who needed to be suspended in order for the singer's "basic liberties" to "be restored."
"[His] suspension was (and is) a necessary first—and substantial— step toward Ms. Spears' freedom and ending the Kafkaesque nightmare imposed upon her by her father, so that her dignity and basic liberties can be restored," the document read, later adding, "Britney Spears' life matters. Britney Spears' well-being matters. And under the circumstances, every day matters because every day Mr. Spears clings to his post is another day of anguish and harm to his daughter, which is avoidable via immediate suspension."
In a statement to PEOPLE, Rosengart noted that his firm "is investigating Jamie's alleged 'abusive conduct.'"
Since she addressed the court directly in late June to discuss her experiences under the conservatorship, Britney has expressed her discontent with her legal status and her family, including Jamie.
"My so-called support system hurt me deeply !!!!" she wrote on Instagram on July 17. "This conservatorship killed my dreams ... so all I have is hope and hope is the only thing in this world that is very hard to kill ... yet people still try !!!!"
For his part, Jamie defended the initial establishment of the conservatorship in a Sept. 7 petition, writing that it "has helped Ms. Spears get through a major life crisis, rehabilitate and advance her career, and put her finances and her affairs in order."
The "Piece of Me" singer announced her engagement to boyfriend Sam Asghari, 27, on Sept. 12, with Rosengart later saying that he is searching for a family law attorney to "craft a prenuptial agreement," since Britney's relationship with her father is "broken."