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Britney Spears' father to remain as co-conservator, judge confirms

But Bessemer Trust, the professional wealth management firm tasked with serving as the singer's co-conservator, has filed a petition asking to withdraw.

Britney Spears
Ethan Miller/Getty Images for ABC

Britney Spears asked a Los Angeles court last week to end her conservatorship, calling the arrangement under which her father governed her life for 13 years "abusive." A judge has now denied the singer's application to remove her father from the conservatorship, TMZ and Variety reported Wednesday. 

According to documents obtained by both publications, Spears' lawyer, Samuel D. Ingham III, filed the petition in November 2020, saying Spears was "afraid" of her father, James (Jamie) Spears, who also serves as her conservator. Back then, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny declined to remove James Spears as conservator, but appointed a financial company, Bessemer Trust, as co-conservator. 

Follow-up paperwork to make that happen was filed more recently. This is the document Penny has signed, reaffirming a decision, made back in November, to have Spears' father remain as co-conservator.

According to the court documents cited by TMZ and Variety, a request to suspend James Spears upon the appointment of wealth management firm Bessemer Trust Company was "denied without prejudice." However, Thursday brought word that Bessemer Trust has filed a request to withdraw from its co-conservator role, citing "changed circumstances."  

"As a result of the conservatee's testimony at the June 23 hearing ... petitioner has become aware that the conservatee objects to the continuance of her conservatorship and desires to terminate the conservatorship," the firm said in the court filing quoted by The New York Times. "Petitioner has heard the conservatee and respects her wishes."

Britney Spears delivered damning words to the court last Wednesday

"I've told the world I'm happy and OK," Spears said. "I'm traumatized. I'm not happy, I can't sleep ... I'm so angry it's insane... It's not OK to force me to do anything I don't want to do. I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive. I don't feel like I can live a full life."

In response, her father asked the court to investigate her allegations

"Either the allegations will be shown to be true, in which case corrective action must be taken, or they will be shown to be false, in which case the conservatorship can continue its course," he said in a court petition obtained by CNN.

The case of Spears' conservatorship went mainstream this year after a New York Times documentary Framing Britney Spears was released on Feb. 5. Friends, supporters, former employees and reporters all spoke on camera about Spears' life, career and the campaign to end or adjust her conservatorship. In its wake, a #freebritney movement has mobilized online among fans. 

Jamie Spears has been his daughter's conservator since her public breakdown in 2008. According to the Variety report, he became sole conservator in 2019, after the resignation of attorney Andrew Wallet as co-conservator. In 2019, Jodi Montgomery was appointed temporary conservator of her person -- responsible for Spears' well-being while Jamie Spears retained control of her finances.

He believes Montgomery, who was appointed after an earlier petition by Spears' lawyer, is to blame for Spears' current situation.

"Based on her statements to the court, Mr. Spears is concerned that the petition to appoint Jodi Montgomery filed by Ms. Spears' court-appointed counsel Samuel D. Ingham III does not reflect her wishes," Jamie Spears' lawyer said.

Ingham didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

For her part, Spears simply wants her father and his conservatorship removed. "I just want my life back," she said. "And it's been 13 years. And it's enough."