Britney Spears’ father hinted in a new filing that he’d be stepping down as conservator sometime in the future — a positive sign in the singer’s yearslong fight for freedom, conservatorship lawyers and experts say.
James "Jamie" Spears said he would be “willing to step down when the time is right,” but is still contesting the petition to remove him, according to a court document filed by his legal team Thursday. He argued that the court shouldn’t suspend his role as conservator based on “false allegations” and said he’d only be in a position to step down after an orderly transition.
While the decision was a win for Britney Spears, lawyers and legal experts told NBC News on Friday that her father could be delaying his resignation to alleviate any culpability from his role as his daughter's conservator for the past 13 years.
"His decision isn't a full and unconditional surrender," NBC News legal analyst Danny Cevallos said. "His response indicates that while he is willing to step down, he may be looking for some concessions, which could be as simple as money — or, it could be something as innocuous as 'clearing his name.'"
If those conditions are met, Cevallos said Jamie Spears could step down as his daughter's conservator "very soon."
Britney Spears recently came forward publicly with serious accusations against her father, saying she was overworked without any breaks, drugged with lithium and prohibited from having more children after her conservators did not allow her to remove her birth control device.
The pop star added she wanted to charge Jamie Spears with “conservatorship abuse.” Her new request to the court to remove her father as a conservator included declarations of support from her mother, Lynne Spears, and conservator-of-the-person, Jodi Montgomery.
Both women offered written testimony in favor of removing Jamie Spears, citing a broken father-daughter relationship and fears for Britney Spears’ mental well-being. Mathew Rosengart, Britney Spears’ attorney, has also indicated concerns about Jamie Spears’ handling of his daughter’s finances.
Jamie Spears has denied all allegations against him in public statements and legal filings. He said in his filing Thursday that he has been the "unremitting target of unjustified attacks.”
NBC News legal analyst Lisa Green said if Jamie Spears wanted to clear his name, he could have moved forward without conceding and gone to court in late September to contest Britney Spears' petition to remove him as a conservator.
"Theoretically, he could have stayed on, dug in his heels and gone trial to insist that he was the only best person to take care of Britney's finances," Green said. "Now he's conceding, whether it's public pressure or his own daughter begging him to leave, that time's up for him."
Tamar Arminak, a lawyer who worked with the actor Amanda Bynes’ parents in her conservatorship case, agreed, saying it was a "very strange" timeline.
"Britney now has an opposition basically saying on the record he'd be willing to step down," Arminak said. "I feel like there's some negotiating left to do. There's some discussion that needs to be had about his role in the past and any kind of role he's looking to have in Britney's future."
The pending petition to remove Jamie Spears is the second attempt by Britney Spears to have her father replaced as her conservator, after Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny denied a similar motion last year.
Penny is expected to rule on whether to replace Jamie Spears with professional accountant Jason Rubin on Sept. 29.
If Penny decides to replace Jamie Spears, Cevallos said, the singer's father could theoretically appeal his removal. But, Cevallos added, it would be an "uphill battle" because of Jamie Spears' statement saying he was willing to step down.
Regardless of Jamie Spears' timeline, Arminak said she didn't see "any reality where Judge Penny, or any judge looking at this situation, would rule in favor of Jamie and against Britney in the question of whether Jamie should be removed as her conservator."