Jamie Spears Suspended: Experts Explain What This Means for Britney Spears' Conservatorship
Britney Spears saw victory in court on Wednesday afternoon as an L.A. judge ruled to immediately suspend her father Jamie from his long-held role as her estate conservator.
The pop superstar — who has been under a conservatorship since 2008 — spoke for the first time about her conservatorship in June during an emotional 23 minutes of testimony in which pleaded for her freedom.
Since then, Britney, 39, and her new lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, have accused Jamie, 69, of conservatorship abuse and called for his immediate removal from the conservatorship. (Jamie — whose lawyer, Vivian Thoreen, pushed for the conservatorship's termination rather than her client's suspension — has long maintained that any decisions he has made over the last 13 years have been in the "best interest" of his daughter.)
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The singer's personal conservator, Jodi Montgomery, remains in her role, while John Zabel, a CPA nominated by Rosengart, will serve as Britney's estate conservator until Dec. 31. Britney's next conservatorship hearing is scheduled for Nov. 12.
Now, legal experts — including Amanda Bynes' lawyer, David A. Esquibias, and family law attorney David Glass — share with PEOPLE what Judge Brenda Penny's decision means for Jamie and whether Britney will see the termination of her conservatorship by the end of the year.
What does today's decision mean for Britney and Jamie?
Esquibias: Jamie basically created the ability for Judge Penny to suspend him. He filed a petition recommending that the conservatorship no longer be imposed over Britney. He, in a sense, was relinquishing his position. Suspension has a negative connotation. The court typically ends the conservatorship simultaneously with the discharge of the conservator. Here, the conservatorship remains intact, but the conservator was suspended. Britney could sue him for negligence or breach of fiduciary duty.
Glass: The real importance, I think, to Britney's team at this point is now that Jamie is out, they'll have access to all his records of communications — except with his attorneys — about Britney and about the security team. [Editor's note: In court on Wednesday, Rosengart referenced The New York Times' documentary, Controlling Britney Spears, in which a man named Alex Vlasov accused Jamie of monitoring his daughter's communications.] They get access to all of that, which is why they were pushing so hard to have him thrown out before the whole conservatorship was terminated. Now they have an easy way of really determining: Did he do anything wrong? What kind of mistakes were made, either purposeful or accidental? That's the big win for her team.
The next conservatorship hearing is scheduled for Nov. 12. What happens in the next 45 days?
Glass: Britney will be happy that her dad is out. Then they will meet with the new accountants who will get into the books. If they can find something juicy, misappropriation of money, unreasonable spending of money, they'll come out with that as soon as possible to say, 'Aha! See, we knew this was going on and now we can prove it.' But mainly they're just going to be putting together a petition to terminate the overall conservatorship so that Britney is free to do what she wants, whether those are smart or un-smart choices going forward.
Esquibias: If Britney's lawyer is smart, he's going to start lining up the evidence to support that Britney should no longer be conserved. Judge Penny is a very thoughtful and prudent judge.
Britney and her lawyer have asked for the termination of her conservatorship to happen without a mental health evaluation. Is that possible?
Esquibias: It's tough to say because it's extremely unusual for someone to no longer be conserved. Conservatorships generally are for either the developmentally disabled, the mentally ill or people with dementia. They're not typically imposed over young, otherwise healthy individuals. Despite the fact that everyone is saying they don't want a psych evaluation, it's unlikely the court will be able to terminate the conservatorship without it. The main reason why is because the court imposed the conservatorship to begin with on the recommendation of a physician. What's tricky is that Britney's conservators have created a situation where she's been put out in public, and it appears like she's able to manage her own affairs and conduct her own life. But out of the other side of his mouth, Jamie has said she lacks that ability.
Glass: The probate code does not require you to have a mental health expert testify that you have regained your capacity, but it's traditional. It happens in 99 percent of the cases where if you want to get out, you need a psychiatrist or a psychologist to do an investigation, do their own analysis and then testify to the court. But it's not required. They've been banking on that they're the one in 100 case where the court is not going to require it. We could come back in 45 days and have the judge say, "I will terminate it once you come in here with a psychologist or psychiatrist," or the judge may just terminate it.
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Over the next 45 days, will Jodi Montgomery's role as Britney's personal conservator be affected?
Glass: Jodi will continue doing her job, which is only as conservator of the person, regarding her doctors, mental health treatment and any medication she needs to take. Everyone is celebrating what a big win it is, but the funny thing about the hearing today is that nothing has been said about Jodi Montgomery. She's been lying low since the July hearing and hasn't said much of anything, but that's the person who has the most say over her personal decision-making. Back in June, Jodi's attorney said they were going to put together a care plan for Britney and that they were going to file it. They haven't done that, and that would really tell us where Britney is in terms of her mental status. Everyone has been focusing on Jamie — not on the 'Is Britney better now? Can she take care of herself?' I think they are going to propose that it slowly end — that the conservator of the estate be removed, but that Jodi be kept in place formally or informally. I think that's the way they're going.
This story originally appeared on people.com