The Britney Spears-Sam Asghari divorce, explained

Britney Spears and husband Sam Asghari are separating after one year of marriage, reports NBC News. Asghari has moved out of Spears’s home and has filed for divorce.

The pair’s marriage was public and scandalous, and their divorce is too. Their June 2022 wedding featured a guest list full of celebrities and one notorious gate-crasher; their divorce is marked by rumors that Spears cheated and reports that Asghari is threatening to blackmail her. Their romance spanned across the final years of Spears’s infamous conservatorship and its explosive end. Here’s a timeline of how it all went down.

Spears and Asghari met for the first time in 2016. Asghari was 22 and Spears 34, and Asghari was cast as the love interest in the video for Spears’s song “Slumber Party.” Spears says she thought Asghari was cute, and when she found his number in her bag a few months after the video shoot wrapped, she decided to call him.

By New Year’s Day 2017, the pair were Instagram official. Asghari, who worked as a fitness instructor in addition to being an actor-model, began making frequent appearances in the fitness videos on Spears’s Instagram. Other posts saw them dancing or frolicking together on the beach.

At the time, Spears was living under a restrictive conservatorship that granted her father control over her finances and much of her personal life. She wanted to get married again and have more kids, but under the terms of the conservatorship, she couldn’t. (Spears has two children with her second husband, dancer Kevin Federline, whom she divorced in 2006.) She had an IUD that she wasn’t allowed to remove.

In February 2021, Hulu and the New York Times released the documentary Framing Britney Spears, an overview of Spears’s early stardom, her downward spiral in 2007, and the few public details that existed at the time of her conservatorship. It had an explosive reception, and the nascent fan-led #FreeBritney movement picked up steam.

In June 2021, Spears publicly testified that she wanted the conservatorship to end. Asghari, the media reported, was “her rock” in the middle of the chaos, someone who “empowers her in every way.” He proposed to her in September 2021, with the conservatorship still going. As the court wended its way toward dissolving the conservatorship, he posted pictures of himself to Instagram in #FreeBritney T-shirts.

In November 2021, the courts issued an order to dissolve the conservatorship. Seven months later, Spears and Asghari were married, with their wedding guests including Madonna, Paris Hilton, and Selena Gomez. They draped their house in pink and white roses and brought in a carriage pulled by horses with golden hooves for the occasion.

The wedding also featured an uninvited guest. In 2004, Spears infamously got married to her childhood friend Jason Alexander (no relation) in Las Vegas on a drunken whim. The marriage was annulled within three days, but Alexander showed up at Spears’s 2022 wedding, declaring on a livestream that she was his first and only wife and claiming she had invited him. He was subdued by the cops before he made it to Britney and booked for trespassing and battery. The rest of the wedding apparently went off without a hitch.

Spears’s behavior, however, has been growing increasingly erratic since the end of the conservatorship. She’s been behaving more or less in the ways you would expect from someone who experienced a series of traumas, some of which included severe restrictions on her personal freedoms. She started feuding with her sister on social media. She had what appeared to be PTSD flashbacks when surrounded by fans with phone cameras. She was reportedly terrified that someone would break into her house in the night and commit her against her will. Rumors spread that Spears and Asghari were getting into frequent screaming matches and that Spears would sometimes get physical with Asghari.

A TMZ documentary released in May alleged that Spears was abusing substances again. In a since-deleted Instagram post, Asghari denounced the documentary as “disgusting.”

“All of a sudden — after 15 years when she’s free after all those gaslighting, all those things that went down — now you’re going to put her under a microscope and tell her story?” he said.

On August 16, TMZ broke the news that Spears and Asghari were divorcing. The big issue, per TMZ, was that Asghari thought Spears was cheating on him.

“About a week ago, Sam confronted Britney over rumors she stepped out on him,” TMZ reported. “We do not know if the rumor has any basis in fact, but we’re told Sam believed it and the two had a huge fight.”

Later the same day, Page Six reported another twist. According to Page Six, Asghari wants to renegotiate their prenup so that he’ll get more alimony — and he’s threatening “to go public with extraordinarily embarrassing information about Britney unless he gets paid.” It’s not clear how much money Asghari is requesting, but Page Six’s source doesn’t think those secrets will ever come out.

“It’s blackmail and it’ll never happen,” the unnamed source said.

As with so much of Spears’s career, it’s a sad and upsetting story that keeps getting sadder, and it keeps spiraling in on the question of how much the public should get to know about the Princess of Pop. After all, everyone wants a piece of her.