Britney Spears should not be forced to cover her mom’s $663,203 legal bill related to the pop star’s now-defunct conservatorship, her lawyer said at a tense court hearing Wednesday that ended with no decision on who will pay the towering tab.
“Ms. Spears should not be burdened with what happened here,” lawyer Mathew Rosengart told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny. He argued it’s not his client’s fault that Lynne Spears’ lawyers apparently won’t get paid unless Britney coughs up the cash.
“This is exploitative of Britney Spears. She was not under the impression that she would have to pay these legal fees,” Rosengart, a former federal prosecutor, said. He claimed Lynne simply has no legal basis to seek the money and that he was taken aback by the “presumptuousness” of her Nov. 1 petition.
“The petition back in November was filed in good faith,” one of Lynne’s lawyers, Yasha Bronshteyn, argued in response to Rosengart’s objections. “My client certainly did everything she could based on Britney Spears’ statements to her, relying on those in good faith, to advocate for her daughter to ultimately end this conservatorship.”
Judge Penney declined to issue a ruling Wednesday, saying she needed more time to review Rosengart’s objections and Bronshteyn’s response. “There were some valid concerns, at least from my perspective, in terms of the legal basis,” Judge Penny told Bronshteyn. According to Rosengart, Lynne has no standing to seek legal fees from the conservatorship because she was never a fiduciary, only an “interested party.”
Lynne Spears sought the fees in her petition filed just days before the court terminated Britney’s nearly 14-year conservatorship at a high-profile hearing on Nov. 12. Her paperwork argued she and her lawyers stepped into the fray at a critical time in 2019 after Britney was sent for an “extended stay in a medical facility” against her will and subjected to treatment that Lynne “did not believe was warranted.”
In her explosive statement to Judge Penny last June, Britney said her dad was the one calling the shots in early 2019 when she refused to move forward with a new Las Vegas residency, saying she needed a break, and was subsequently placed on Lithium that made her feel “drunk.” Britney said she also was sent to an intensive in-patient “rehab” where she sat in a chair for 10 hours a day with no privacy, and no control over her schedule or ability to leave.
In her filing asking for attorneys’ fees, Lynne said she was troubled in 2019 by the “microscopic control” her daughter was living under. She highlighted Britney’s “paltry” weekly allowance and the fact that Britney was barred from driving her own car, owning a smart phone or even governing when she spent time with her boyfriend and children.
Lynne hired her lawyers “to help Britney free herself from what she saw as a very controlling existence,” her filing claimed. She said her top priority was helping Britney “achieve independence from her conservator father, James Spears,” and her “mission” started in earnest when she accompanied Britney to a conservatorship hearing in May 2019 “where Britney opened her heart to this court for the first time.” Lynne said in her Nov. 1 filing that between September 2019 and January 2020, her lawyers pushed to add a professional fiduciary as a co-conservator of Britney’s estate sharing power with Britney’s father Jamie. She further claimed it was her “prodding” that led Britney’s court-appointed lawyer Sam Ingham to finally signal to the court at a public hearing in 2020 that Britney wanted her dad removed as conservator.
For her part, Britney has been highly critical of her family, including her mom, in recent months. Just last week, she used her Instagram account to share a clip from her movie Crossroads, saying Lynne was “worse” than her character’s absentee mom because of what she “did to me in real life.”
In paperwork filed shortly before the Wednesday afternoon hearing, Rosengart pointed out that Britney has been “her family’s sole breadwinner” for years, and that she already pays for her mom’s luxury home in Kentwood, Louisiana, including its utilities, insurance, property taxes, pool work, landscaping and maintenance.
“The fees and costs at issue cannot be foisted onto Britney Spears, who already has paid many millions for court-appointed counsel, counsel for the conservator of the estate, counsel for the conservator of the person, and others, all while very generously providing a beautiful home for her mother and paying for all associated expenses,” Rosengart wrote in the filing.
He further argued Lynne’s petition “minimizes the extraordinary tenacity and perseverance of Britney Spears herself, who objects to the petition.”
“If Britney Spears — now, at last, a free woman — were to voluntarily agree that Lynne Spears should receive an additional payment from her, that would be her choice. But the petition is entirely unsupported by law or equity and must be rejected for these reasons alone,” Rosengart wrote.
Judge Penny set a follow-up hearing on the matter for July 20. In the meantime, Rosengart is working with a forensic accountant ahead of an expected trial over Jamie’s management of the conservatorship and his separate request for legal fees.