After 13 long years, a massive fan-led movement, and gut-wrenching public testimony from the Princess of Pop herself, Britney Spears is free.
In a Friday hearing, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny ordered an end to the conservatorship that’s controlled Spears’ life and finances for more than a decade, Variety reported. First implemented in 2008, while Spears was publicly battling mental health issues, the conservatorship has come under mounting controversy in recent months, as the pop icon and legions of her devoted fans have condemned it as abusive and exploitative.
Conservatorships are typically used as a last resort for people who are unable to care for themselves and likely unable to work—not pop stars who are able to function to the point that they can command eye-poppingly lucrative tours and Las Vegas residencies.
Still, the undoing of a 13-year-long system was surprisingly swift.
Although Spears’ fans had long cast doubt on the conservatorship’s validity—a movement that eventually coalesced under the name #FreeBritney—Spears’ own testimony about the conservatorship jolted the country. In June, Spears publicly spoke at length about the conservatorship for the first time, alleging, among other abuses, that her team had pressured her into working and kept her from being able to take out her IUD.
In the months since that explosive testimony, Spears got a new attorney, Mathew Rosengart, who advocated furiously for the removal of James Spears, Britney’s father, as the longtime conservator of her roughly $60 million estate. (James has denied all allegations of wrongdoing.)
Although James Spears initially opposed the idea, he eventually agreed to leave—and then started to advocate for the end of the conservatorship entirely, a maneuver that may shield James Spears from scrutiny into his treatment of his daughter. In September, James was booted from the conservatorship, although Penny at that point didn’t agree to terminate the arrangement entirely.
Earlier this week, in a since-deleted Instagram caption, Britney Spears said, “I haven’t prayed for something more in my life.”
There are still more details to iron out, according to the New York Times, including multiple financial issues. John Zabel, a certified public accountant who took over handling Britney Spears’ estate after James Spears’ ouster, will continue to deal with some financial matters.
Britney Spears has previously asked to be released from the conservatorship without additional mental evaluations—a request Penny granted on Friday.
Penny told the courtroom, “The conservatorship of the person and estate of Britney Jean Spears is no longer required.”
In a press conference after Penny’s decision, Rosengart thanked Britney for her “courage and poise and power.”
“Not only is this momentous for Britney, but she helped shine a light on not only this conservatorship—which was corrupted by her father James P. Spears—but she helped shine a light on conservatorships and guardianships from coast to coast,” Rosengart said.
Rosengart said that James had failed to appear for requested depositions and that James’ legal team has not responded to document requests.
But when it comes to the question of whether to investigate James Spears, Rosengart said, “The answer is ultimately up to my client Britney.”
On her social media accounts, Spears shared footage of her fans celebrating her freedom.
“Good God I love my fans so much it’s crazy,” she wrote, adding some emojis. “I think I’m gonna cry the rest of the day !!!! Best day ever … praise the Lord … can I get an Amen????”
She then added: #FreedBritney.