Inside Britney Spears' troubled relationship with her father Jamie as he finally files to end conservatorship
After more than 13 years of being held under a conservatorship, freedom seems to be on the horizon for Britney Spears.
On Tuesday, her father, Jamie, filed an unexpected request to terminate the controversial legal agreement, which Britney has previously denounced as "abusive".
This comes after the 39-year-old pop star twice petitioned the courts to remove her father as the overseer of her $60 million estate.
In light of this new turn, we take a look back at Britney's relationship with her father — from its troubled beginnings to her conservatorship battle.
According to Jamie's 2019 court testimony, his relationship with Britney has "always been strained".
This is a perspective shared by the pop star's mother Lynne Spears, who detailed Britney's childhood in her 2008 memoir, Through the Storm.
As Britney's mum took the aspiring pop star out of state for auditions and performances, Jamie reportedly went from job to job, and struggled with alcoholism.
In Through the Storm, Lynne claims that her former husband "always enjoyed a beer here and there, but he didn’t start drinking heavily until after Bryan was born" — that is the Spears' oldest child, whom they welcomed in April of 1977.
"With every alcohol-soaked episode, our perfect little life began to unstitch, and the knot we had tied with our vows and our love started to work loose, thread by painful thread," she wrote.
Jamie eventually went to rehab in 2004, after Britney urged him to seek treatment, per US Magazine.
The Spears' troubled marriage
Lynne considered leaving Jamie a number of times following their 1975 nuptials, but ultimately decided to stay for the children — as she details in her memoir.
The schoolteacher writes: "When I look back, I guess I could have ended it a lot sooner and maybe saved myself and my son [Bryan] some heartache. But I wouldn’t have my girls, Britney and Jamie Lynn.
"Plus, it’s almost impossible to say I should have done this or that. At the time, divorcing Jamie did not seem like the right thing to do."
The Spears eventually did divorce, following the struggles that came with their eldest daughter's sudden fame.
In May 2002, the couple split with Britney declaring it to be "the best thing that’s ever happened to my family", according to People.
"My mom and dad, bottom line, do not get along," she said. "When I was a baby, they argued. I wanted this to happen 10 years ago."
After a teenage Britney signed a deal with Jive Records, Lynne and her friend, Felicia Culotta, took turns travelling with the pop star in the late '90s.
During this time, Jamie was notably absent.
In the February 2021 documentary, Framing Britney Spears, the singer's former agent, Nancy Carson, remembers seeing the patriarch around much less: "Jamie visited from time to time and was anxious to see this time be worthwhile so that he could justify the money that it was costing to do this."
Ex-Jive executive, Kim Kaiman added: "Her mother would do whatever it took, personally and for the family’s sake, for Britney to be a star. I never talked to her father.
"The only thing Jamie ever said to me was, 'My daughter is going to be so rich she’s going to buy me a boat.'"
'How he can be such an a**hole, and then be so nice?'
Jamie and Britney's relationship appeared volatile one minute, and loving another, in the 2008 MTV documentary, Britney: For the Record.
In one scene, Jamie sweetly prepared his daughter's favourite comfort food: "Grits is an old Southern tradition. She’s been eating them since she was born. Everybody else has Wheaties, but Southern girls’ breakfast of champions is cheese grits."
But later, the Toxic singer quipped, "I don’t understand how he can be such an a**hole, and then be so nice," after her father left the room.
Britney also alluded to feeling controlled by the conservatorship for the first time later in the documentary; stating that her routine was monotonous, and that she felt "too in control".
"If I wasn’t under the restraints I’m under right now, with all the lawyers and doctors and people analyzing me every day — if that wasn’t there, I’d feel so liberated," she asserted.
"When I tell them the way I feel, it’s like they hear but they’re really not listening. It’s like, it’s bad. I’m sad."
Jamie steps up for Britney
In 2014, Jamie purchased a video of Britney's then-boyfriend, David Lucado, who was seen kissing and dancing with another woman.
It was believed he did so because he did not want the footage to leak online and humiliate the star.
Britney and Lucado split shortly afterwards, per US Magazine.
During this time, the pair also seemed to grow closer with Jamie attending a number of Britney's concerts during her Las Vegas residency, Britney: Piece of Me, which ran from December 2013 to December 2017.
Jamie's alleged altercation with Britney's son
Fast-forward five years however and the father and daughter's relationship took a turn for the worse. In August of 2019, Jamie was accused of being in a physical altercation with her then-14-year-old son, Sean.
Following the incident, Jamie stepped down as her primary conservator, with her longtime "care manager", Jodi Montgomery, temporarily taking over.
At the time, he cited health reasons for his departure.
While criminal charges were not filed against Britney's father, Britney's ex-husband, Kevin Federline, was granted a restraining order to keep their children away from Jamie following the incident.
The following year, Britney's youngest son, Jayden, blasted his grandfather Jamie during an Instagram Live session.
During the 20-minute video, one follower wrote "kill your grandfather" to which the teen responded, "Bro, I was thinking the same thing."
When another follower asked "is your grandfather a jerk?," Jayden hit back: "Yeah, he’s a pretty big d**k...He can go die."
'We're not on good terms'
In November of 2020, Britney's lawyer said that the singer was "afraid" of her dad, per the NY Times: "My client has informed me that she is afraid of her father. She also stated that she will not perform as long as her father is in charge of her career. We are really at a crossroads."
At the time, lawyer Samuel D. Ingham III also claimed that Britney had not spoken with her dad for some time.
The following month, Jamie corroborated to CNN that he had not been on "good terms" with his daughter since the previous August.
"I love my daughter and I miss her very much," he told the news station. "When a family member needs special care and protection, families need to step up, as I have done for the last 12-plus years, to safeguard, protect and continue to love Britney unconditionally.
"I have and will continue to provide unwavering love and fierce protection against those with self-serving interests and those who seek to harm her or my family."
Sam Asghari speaks out
Britney's boyfriend of three years, Sam Asghari, took to Instagram Stories in February of this year to condemn her family — especially her father.
"Now it's important for people to understand that I have zero respect for someone trying to control our relationship and constantly throwing obstacles our way," he wrote, according to E! Entertainment.
"In my opinion, Jamie is a total d**k. I won't be going into details because I've always respected our privacy but at the same time, I didn't come to this country to not be able to express my opinion and freedom."
"I’m not upset at anybody, but you know what? What I said is what I said. I think he’s a d**k," he added to TMZ later that day.
"That’s just my opinion, but I’m not going to go into details. That’s it, man. I hope [we can be on good terms one day]. Once he starts treating his daughter right, then we can be on good terms."
Britney explosively breaks her silence
In her 24-minute testimony on June 23 of this year, the Circus singer said that Jamie was "all for" how she's been treated under the "abusive" conservatorship agreement.
She claimed that she was put on lithium, and made to live with six nurses in her home, who wouldn't let her leave for a month — something she claims her father supported.
"Lithium is a very, very strong and completely different medication compared to what I was used to," she said, as reported by Variety.
"You can go mentally impaired if you take too much, if you stay on it longer than five months. But he put me on that and I felt drunk. I really couldn't even take up for myself. I couldn't even have a conversation with my mom or dad really about anything.
"Not only did my family not do a goddamn thing, my dad was all for it. Anything that happened to me had to be approved by my dad... He was the one who approved all of it. My whole family did nothing."
The mother-of-two also expressed her desire to get married and have a child with Asghari, which she reportedly cannot do under the conservatorship.
She said: "I was told right now in the conservatorship, I'm not able to get married or have a baby, I have an [IUD] inside of myself right now so I don't get pregnant. I wanted to take the [IUD] out so I could start trying to have another baby. But this so-called team won't let me go to the doctor to take it out because they don't want me to have children — any more children."
The star also claimed that her father "loved" the control that he had over her. "How come I was always threatened by my dad and anybody that participated in this conservatorship?" she asked. "I cried on the phone for an hour and he loved every minute of it. The control he had over someone as powerful as me — he loved the control to hurt his own daughter 100,000%. He loved it.
"But my precious body, who has worked for my dad for the past f**king 13 years, trying to be so good and pretty. So perfect. When he works me so hard. When I do everything I'm told… and the state of California allowed my father — ignorant father — to take his own daughter, who only has a role with me if I work with him, they've set back the whole course and allowed him to do that to me."
'I'm here to get rid of my dad'
After Judge Brenda Penny denied Britney's request to have her father removed from the legal agreement, she addressed the court once more on July 14.
"I’m here to get rid of my dad and charge him for conservatorship abuse," she told Penny via remote video, per Variety. "I want to press charges for abuse on this conservatorship today. All of it."
The Overprotected singer continued to claim that during her Circus tour, she was forced to take psychological tests against her will, and had her blood drawn multiple times a week. This was after she said she was promised that she could have her life back if she complied.
"I did it all and they lied…they did nothing. They didn’t end it, and I kept working," she said.
She also claimed that her driver's license and hair vitamins were taken away from her, and that she was not allowed to drink coffee or choose what she wanted to eat.
"Instead of trying to investigate my behaviour or my capacity, I want my dad investigated," Britney continued. "This conservatorship is literally allowing my dad to rule my life… that is abuse, and we all know it. I’m angry, and I will go there."
Jamie files to end Britney's conservatorship
On September 7, 2021, Jamie finally filed a request to terminate his conservatorship over his daughter.
He said that "recent events" called into question whether the star still needed a court to oversee her finances and personal affairs.
The filing at a court in Los Angeles read: "Ms Spears has told this court that she wants control of her life back without the safety rails of a conservatorship.
"She wants to be able to make decisions regarding her own medical care, deciding when, where and how often to get therapy. She wants to control the money she has made from her career and spend it without supervision or oversight.
"She wants to be able to get married and have a baby, if she so chooses. In short, she wants to live her life as she chooses without the constraints of a conservator or court proceeding."
Lawyers for Jamie added: "As Mr Spears has said again and again, all he wants is what is best for his daughter. If Ms Spears wants to terminate the conservatorship and believes that she can handle her own life, Mr Spears believes that she should get that chance."
He also said that Jodi Montgomery, a caregiver who oversees Britney's personal affairs, should also be discharged.