The Britney Spears Family Fued Timeline Explained

"I just want to go somewhere where no one knows my name," reads a quote posted on Britney Spears' Instagram. It's a simple but inconceivable request from someone whose life has been heavily scrutinized ever since the release of her coming-of-age hit "... Baby One More Time" in 1998. She transformed from an innocent small-town girl to a captivating python-holding sex symbol, undoubtedly blueprinting herself as a pop culture phenomenon. But despite Spears' success, her career and personal life were intensely scrutinized by the media throughout her years in the spotlight. The "Princess of Pop" navigated life, love, heartbreak, and motherhood under the intense criticism of the paparazzi that followed her every move.

While the pop icon seemed to find her voice again and again with every chart-topping album release, her personal life was a different story. A story that dehumanized her, thanks to endless media attention painting her as a star in a downward spiral. No one could forget Spears shaving her golden locks and wielding an umbrella, heavily criticized moments that preceded Spears' 13-year-long conservatorship. With the media desperate for a front-page story, Spears' cries for help were underscored by the need to satisfy Hollywood greed. She was cast aside as a woman in a "breakdown," and not a human being battling a culture bent on exploiting her for capital gain. Now finally freed of her conservatorship, Spears is making up for years of silence. The pop star has made shocking allegations about her inner circle, and we've taken a look at the timeline of Britney Spears' ongoing family feud.

A childhood riddled with alcoholism and abuse

Born into a family that struggled to make ends meet, Britney Spears became the golden ticket her family rode all the way to the bank. Her father Jamie had his own demons, with his own wife and daughter being vocal about his bouts with alcoholism. The pop star's younger sister Jamie Lynn Spears opened up about her childhood in her memoir "The Things I Should Have Said" (via Page Six), writing about her dad's behavior. "He spent most of my life in that cycle of ruinous behavior. His bouts of drinking always caused me periods of torment and sorrow," the "Zoey 101" star confessed.

Jamie's ex-wife Lynne Spears wrote in her memoir "Through The Storm" (via Page Six) that Britney urged her to leave her husband after she suffered "years and years of verbal abuse, abandonment [and] erratic behavior." According to The New Yorker, Lynne filed for divorce in 1980, citing infidelity on Jamie's part. The papers were later withdrawn, and the two reconciled again before ultimately divorcing in 2002.

Britney's aunt, Leigh Ann Spears Wrather, who is Jamie's half-sister, told the New York Post that the patriarch's behavior stems from a lineage of Spears men who allegedly abuse women. She confessed she endured years of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of Britney's grandfather and was shocked to hear Britney's court testimony claiming her father forced her to take medication. "Typical for this family and how they treat their women," said Wrather, who claimed Britney's grandfather institutionalized Jamie's stepmom and forced her to take lithium.

Britney's dad takes a back seat during her rise to fame

As Britney Spears' career took off, her father was notably absent while her mother Lynne Spears touted her daughter around the country in the early '90s. Individuals who worked closely with the "Circus" crooner were featured in the 2021 "Framing Britney Spears" documentary and recalled the absence of the singer's father as she rose to stardom. "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," the singer's former agent said. Ex-Jive executive Kim Kaimon recalls Britney's mother working tirelessly for her daughter to make it. But she says the only thing Jamie ever said to her was, "My daughter is going to be so rich she's gonna buy me a boat." Jamie's certainly able to buy a boat these days, or a luxury yacht, with the estimated $5 million dollars he's earned over the 13 years he served as his daughter's conservator.

Britney vs. the paparazzi

Britney Spears' conservatorship was preceded by years of unfair media blitzes. The price of paparazzi photos of the singer went for six figures in 2007, topping out at half a million dollars for an exclusive of her shaved head, according to Portfolio Magazine (via MTV). As the "Lucky" singer fought a custody battle, juggled motherhood, and recorded "Circus," the slightest slip-up was dubbed as a meltdown. An ABC News headline in 2007 labeled her "Bald and Broken," her vulnerability exploited for the sake of a salacious story.

Fans took to Spears' defense when a 2003 interview resurfaced in which Diane Sawyer made seemingly misogynistic comments about the star's breakup with Justin Timberlake. "You did something that caused him so much pain, so much suffering, what did you do?" Sawyer questioned. "What was with the 'You're in the wrong' approach? Geeze,” Spears wrote about the interview on Instagram in 2021 (via ET). While the singer was victimized amidst the breakup, Timberlake went on New York's Hot 97 (via GQ) bragging about giving her oral sex.

In light of "Framing Britney Spears" highlighting the sexism that Spears endured for years, Timberlake took to Instagram, responding to the backlash. "I specifically want to apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson both individually, because I care for and respect these women and I know I failed," Timberlake wrote in his post. "Because of my ignorance, I didn't recognize it for all that it was while it was happening in my own life but I do not want to ever benefit from others being pulled down again."

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Britney's psychiatric hold

One month before her 13-year conservatorship began, chaos ensued at Britney Spears' LA mansion. Helicopters swarmed overhead and hundreds of paparazzi crowded the street as she was placed in a psychiatric "5150" hold, strapped to a gurney, and wheeled off to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for 72 hours of evaluation in January 2008, per The New York Times. The star had refused to relinquish her son Jayden to a bodyguard, violating her custody agreement and ensuing an avalanche of events that would begin her conservatorship, deeming her unfit to control her own life and finances.

Fifteen years later, Spears is rewriting the story of that infamous night. The "Toxic" singer tweeted a link to a since-deleted audio recording saying "I know now it was all premeditated ... there were no drugs in my system, no alcohol, nothing, it was pure abuse." Spears went on to say his friend introduced the idea of an involuntary psychiatric hold to her father, and her mother helped him put it into action.

While much of the public quickly labeled Spears as a mother endangering her children, the singer's housekeeper saw a doting mother who couldn't bear the thought of being far from her kids. "She didn't want to hurt or do anything wrong with her kids. No. I was there, and I know all she wanted was to have her kids at least another night," she told The New Yorker. "None of it made sense," Spears said of the incident in August. "The extent of my madness was playing chase with paparazzi," she joked.

Britney's 13-year conservatorship begins

"I'm Britney Spears and I'm calling the shots," were the words Britney Spears claimed her father said on the first day he was named her conservator. By legal definition, a conservator is defined as a person appointed "to manage a person's affairs who is unable to handle them due to their mental capacity, age, or physical disability." While Jamie Spears insists he has always done right by Britney, she has a starkly different interpretation of events.

According to The New Yorker, Britney was committed to a second involuntary psychiatric hold just weeks after her first. While the pop star remained at the hospital, her parents and a family friend swiftly submitted a request for conservatorship. A judge granted their petition to waive the requirement to notify Britney, and in a process that took all of 10 minutes, the "Lucky" singer lost control of her life for over a decade. Family friend Jacqueline Butcher, who at the time helped facilitate the ordeal, told The New Yorker she regrets her role. "A conservatorship was granted without ever talking to her," she said. "And, whatever they claim about any input she had behind the scenes, how could you have assessed her then? Shouldn't you wait a week, then interview her? She never had a chance."

"They made me feel like nothing and I went along with it because I was scared," Spears said in an August audio recording. "And they literally killed me. They threw me away," she continued. "That's what it felt like, like my family threw me away."

Britney silently pleaded for years to leave the conservatorship

Britney Spears went on tour for "Circus," dropped four hit albums, judged "The X Factor," performed at the VMAs, and had a Las Vegas residency for years, yet the superstar's many requests to end her conservatorship were never granted. In February 2008, during Spears' forced hospital stay, the singer sought counsel to try and prevent Jamie from taking over as conservator. "She has expressed to me very strongly that her father not be the conservator," attorney Andrew Streisand said at the time, per the Los Angeles Daily News. "There has been an estrangement for quite some time. With him as conservator, that is causing her more agitation and more distress."

According to Streisand, court-appointed attorney Samuel Ingham showed up unannounced to the hospital to interview Britney and later testified in court that she lacked the capacity to retain counsel. The judge denied Streisand the right to represent Britney, and Ingham remained Britney's lawyer for 13 years, never once filing a petition to end the conservatorship despite his client's multiple requests. Sources in Spears' inner circle recall that Ingham even reported to Jamie on Britney's whereabouts.

Ingham ultimately resigned shortly after Britney's shocking testimony in which she admitted she didn't know she was able to petition to end the conservatorship. Maybe Ingham neglected to inform his client while he was busy cashing out the nearly $3 million he earned in legal fees since 2008. In her own words to the court, the singer admitted her lawyer advised her not to tell her story publicly. "My attorney says I can't — it's not good, I can't let the public know anything they did to me," she confessed.

Blackmailed by her own family

When Britney Spears' first attempt to retain her own counsel in 2008 was shut down, she sought out another lawyer, Jon Eardley. In leaked voicemails that Britney's former manager Sam Lutfi claims she sent him, a voice allegedly belonging to the pop star pleads, "I am of sound mind and body, I know I am being held against my will ... I would love to exercise my constitutional rights." According to court documents obtained by The New Yorker, Eardley claimed that after Britney tried to call him, her phone was taken away and her number was disconnected. Jamie went on to file a restraining order against Eardley and alleged that calls Britney made were doctored.

In another voicemail Lutfi posted on Instagram, a voice appearing to be Britney said, "My father has threatened me several times that um, you know, he'll take my children away." The "Overprotected" singer claims this blackmail continued as she went on to make millions while being allotted a $2,000 weekly allowance.

In a since-deleted audio recording posted by the singer, she recalled saying no to a dance move at rehearsals for her "Domination" show in 2018. Afterward, her show was canceled and her father forced her to check into rehab.

Britney's father spied on Free Britney supporters

While Britney Spears may have been silent for over a decade on her legal situation, she had an army of fans to do the talking for her. Britney wrote about the Free Britney movement in 2021 on Instagram (via CNN), writing, "Honestly, my voice was muted and threatened for so long, and I wasn't able to speak up or say anything... I honestly think you guys saved my life, in a way. 100 percent."

While the movement gained traction in 2019 and 2020 following the release of the podcast "Britney's Gram" and the documentary "Framing Britney Spears," dedicated fans coined the term long before pop culture picked up it up. Per The New Yorker, Jordan Miller, a journalism student at the time, coined the term "Free Britney ” in 2008 while running his fan site called BreatheHeavy, which lobbied against the conservatorship. "It was the reports that she didn't have access to a cell phone that did it," said Miller. The Britney advocate said he received an anonymous call from someone who dialed in Jamie Spears. "He said he was going to destroy my ass," Miller told the news outlet. "I was shaking in my childhood bedroom, terrified."

According to a New York Times article, Jamie hired undercover personnel to attend Free Britney rallies to gain background information on supporters. Alex Vlasov, a former employee of the security firm Black Box, claimed "threat assessment reports" were made to keep tabs on media accounts like "Britney's Gram," as well as "high-risk" fans.

Britney's cries for help

Britney Spears has rarely ever publicly addressed her conservatorship, and in her case, silence speaks volumes. The pop superstar has given us rare glimpses into her personal life — or in her words — lack thereof, in the few times she's addressed her situation. Shortly after her conservatorship took place in 2008, viewers saw the pop star open up about her situation in the MTV documentary "Britney: For the Record." "If I wasn't under the restraints that I'm under right now, with all the lawyers and doctors and people analyzing me every day and all that kinda stuff — if that wasn't there, I'd feel so liberated and feel like myself," she explained. "When I tell them the way I feel it's like they hear me but [they're] really not listening," Spears said as she broke into tears.

In 2016, Britney addressed the conservatorship again while promoting her "Glory" album in the United Kingdom. Audience members claimed the pop star addressed her legal bind in an interview on "The Jonathan Ross Show," but her comments were allegedly cut from the final broadcast. "Okay, so I have this conservatorship. I've been under this conservatorship for three years and I felt like a lot of decisions were made for me, so I wanted ["Glory"] to be my baby and I've been really strategic about it," she told the host, according to PopCrush contributor Grace Medford.

Britney's father monitored her private conversations and movements 24/7

Britney Spears had a surveillance team that monitored her private text messages, bugged her bedroom, investigated her close friends, and tracked her every request — according to a whistleblower who came forward in a shocking New York Times piece. Alex Vlasov, a former employee of Black Box, said he was privy to the operation designed to keep the pop star safe. "It really reminded me of somebody that was in prison," he said

Vlasov joined the company in 2012 as a college student but eventually became the executive assistant to Edan Yemini, founder of Black Box. According to Vlasov, Spears' father Jamie monitored all of her private phone activity by mirroring her iCloud account onto a separate iPad. "Her own phone and her own private conversations were used so often to control her," Vlasov said. According to screenshots Valsov provided to The New York Times, nothing was off limits for surveillance — even conversations between Britney and her lawyer were monitored by her father.

Jamie's legal team denies all allegations of illegal surveillance and has subpoenaed Vlasov to turn over evidence of alleged spying and invasion of privacy. Vlasov's lawyer opposed and invoked his client's fifth amendment right. Judge Brenda Penny, who presides over the ongoing case, has ordered Britney's former management company to turn over all records, emails, and texts related to the surveillance allegations reported by The New York Times. At the time of writing, the case is ongoing.

Britney is finally freed

In November 2021, Britney Spears' fans crowded outside a Los Angeles courthouse to hear the news that had been their battle cry for over a decade. "Free Britney" was a reality after a judge ruled to dissolve the conservatorship that controlled Spears' finances, medical decisions, and personal life for a large portion of her adult life. The motion came five months after the pop star delivered a shocking testimony likening her legal bind to enslavement. "What state allows people to own another person's money and account and threaten them and saying, 'You can't spend your money unless you do what we want you to do.' And I'm paying them," Spears said.

The "Overprotected" singer confessed her personal desires to see her friends, have her boyfriend "drive me in his car," and "to be able to get married and have a baby," claims she said were denied by her conservators. "But I wish I could stay with you on the phone forever, because when I get off the phone with you, all of a sudden all I hear all these no's — no, no, no," Spears added. "And I'm tired of feeling alone. I deserve to have the same rights as anybody does, by having a child, a family, any of those things, and more so."

Spears rejoiced after the decision, tweeting, "I think I'm gonna cry the rest of the day !!!! Best day ever." At the time of writing, the singer is in an ongoing legal battle over the alleged misuse of finances and activities related to the conservatorship.

Britney slams her family in social media feuds

Britney Spears has 13 years worth of talking to make up for. Shortly after her moving court testimony, the "Princess of Pop" took to Instagram (via Today) in July 2021 and wrote, "There's nothing worse than when the people closest to you who never showed up for you post things in regard to your situation."

The pop star called out her mother for ignoring her multiple text messages for help, which Lynne Spears has defended, publicly pleading with her daughter to allow her to come visit. Britney however, doesn't seem to be in the mood to make amends. "Did you tell them how you were at my beach house when I couldn't even have the keys to my car ??? Did you tell them I was doing 3 AA meetings a week when I hate alcohol ???" she wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post (via BuzzFeed News).

Spears continued her family attacks in an audio recording. "These people are on the streets fighting for me but my sister and my mother aren't doing anything," she said. "They literally killed me." The "Sometimes" songstress took to Instagram (via The Sun) to share her victory and slight embarrassment in being able to withdraw $300 to spend on chocolate and wine. "But I am more embarrassed for my family for condoning the fact that I wasn't allowed to have cash for so long when I worked my little ass off for them," she wrote.

Britney battles Jamie Lynn over her tell-all memoir

Jamie Lynn Spears made shocking claims about her big sister in her memoir "Things I Should've Said" (via E! News), released just months after Britney Spears' conservatorship ended. The "Zoey 101" star wrote, "One time, she said to me, 'Baby, I'm scared,' and took a large knife from the kitchen, pulled me along to my room, and she locked us both inside." Britney denied the claims. "I've never been around you ever with a knife or would I ever even think to do such !!!" she wrote in since-deleted tweets (via E! News).

Britney's lawyer sent a cease and desist to Jamie Lynn, quoting the "Zoey 101" star directly from her memoir. "You of all people know the abuse and wrongdoing Britney had to endure during the conservatorship, after initially growing up with a 'ruinous,' alcoholic father," the legal letter read, per Variety.

"I was never allowed to do anything or say anything that would possibly put my sister in a bad light," Jamie Lynn said on the "Call Her Daddy" podcast. "My whole life I kind of felt like I didn't matter." In an Instagram post, Britney clapped back after the episode premiered. "In life a lot of people say "DO I MATTER ????" ... try eating alone for 4 months morning ... noon ... and night Jamie Lynn," she wrote. "I didn't get to cry ... I had to be strong ... TOO STRONG !!! So yes ... YOU DO MATTER and don't you ever think for one f***ing second you don't."

Britney says her mom was behind the conservatorship

In a shocking revelation, Britney Spears called out her mother Lynne for orchestrating her long-contested conservatorship. In a since-deleted Instagram post (via Insider), the Grammy-winning singer claimed that her mother was privy to the plan that legally bound the singer. "I didn't believe you guys... we had a f***ing sleepover the night before !!! It was all planned and you acted like you had no idea what was going on !!!" Britney wrote.

The "Lucky" singer did not waste any time once a Los Angeles judge ruled her a free woman once again. The singer took to Instagram days after her conservatorship was dissolved in since-deleted posts (via Page Six). "I'm not even mentioning all the bad things they did to me which they should all be in jail for ... yes including my church going mother!!!! I'm used to keeping peace for the family and keeping my mouth shut ... but not this time," Britney wrote.

Britney is currently battling her own mother in court after refusing to pay the $663,000 in legal bills her mother Lynne claims she is owed. The Spears matriarch says she is entitled to the money for hiring a team of lawyers to "achieve independence from her conservator father, Jamie Spears," according to court documents obtained by CBS News. Her parents really can't quit hitting their baby one more time — with court cases.

Britney's ex-husband and son speak out on conservatorship

It's far from smooth sailing when it comes to Britney Spears and her ex-husband Kevin Federline, with whom she shares sons Sean and Jayden. Throw in Jamie Spears and it gets even messier. Britney's son Jayden attacked his grandfather in a 2020 Instagram Live (via Page Six), saying, "He's a pretty big d**k ... He can go die." Tensions reached a high when Federline put a restraining order in place against Jamie in 2019, forbidding him to go near the kids after Jamie allegedly broke down a door and put his hands on Sean.

Federline and Jayden have their own views on the controversial conservatorship, and they made their feelings known in a rare media interview with ITV News. "I saw a man that really cared and really cares about his family and wanting everything to be OK," said Federline of Jamie and Britney's relationship. "100% I feel like he saved her back then," he added.

"I did think, maybe the conservatorship did go for a little too long," Britney's youngest son Jayden told ITV News. "[My mom] felt that she's working for too long, which I personally think, yeah she was." Britney didn't take too kindly to her ex-husband speaking out, or her kids' aversion to her frequent nude Instagram posts. She clapped back in an Instagram post (via the Daily Mail), writing, "Tell your father to go and at least try and mow the lawn." Ouch.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Britney's father forced her into rehab

Britney Spears and a whistleblower formerly involved with Jamie Spears' legal team have both claimed the singer's father forced her to enter a mental facility in 2019 against her will. An anonymous source called into the "Britney's Gram" podcast claiming Jamie canceled the singer's "Domination" tour because Britney refused to take a specific medication. The source says Britney' father forced her to go to rehab and made the pop star lie on Instagram, blaming the cancellation on her need to focus on her family and her father's health problems. "What is happening is disturbing to say the least," the source said. "From what I understand this was not a decision she made at all." Though Rolling Stone claimed Britney entered rehab in April 2019, the "Britney's Gram" source claimed she had already been a patient for months at that time, entering mid-January of that year.

Britney corroborated the story via audio recording, saying, "I remember his last words were 'Now, you don't have to go, but if you don't go, we're gonna go to court and there will be a big trial and you're going to lose. I have way more people on my side than you, you don't even have a lawyer.'" Britney shared a since-deleted Instagram post about the ordeal (via Page Six), where she alleged her sister reached out to her text during the rehab stint. Jamie Lynn allegedly wrote, "They're not gonna let you go so why are you fighting it."