After 13 years under a strict conservatorship controlled by her father, Britney Spears is one step closer to making decisions for herself. She may finally get to take control over her health, her finances, and decisions such as whether or not she can have more children.
How did a world-famous pop star end up under her father’s control, and how did she finally break free?
What Led to Britney Spears’ Conservatorship
In 2007 and 2008, Ms. Spears experienced a very public series of personal issues. Under the pressure of experiencing fame at a young age, the back-to-back births of two children, a divorce, intense public scrutiny, and the constant presence of paparazzi, Ms. Spears began to show signs of a person who was struggling.
Her behavior was erratic. She walked into a salon and shaved her own head. She drove with her infant son in her lap. She hit a photographer’s car with an umbrella.
Ms. Spears was hospitalized twice for mental health evaluations.
It was around this time, in 2008, when her father, Jaime Spears petitioned the court for an emergency temporary conservatorship.
The “temporary” conservatorship was granted, giving Mr. Spears control over Ms. Spears’ estate and health. The order remained in place for thirteen years.
What’s a Conservatorship?
A few months ago, we broke down the definition of a conservatorship and guardianship on this blog.
Ms. Spear’s case is in California and abides by their laws on conservatorships. In Florida, her case would likely qualify as a guardianship issue. Both issues are similar in that they involve one or more conservators or guardians who take legal responsibility for someone who has been deemed incapable of caring for themselves or their property on their own.
There are two types of conservators and guardians: one type manages personal and health issues of the conservatee and another manages the financial assets of the conservatee.
Ms. Spears had both types of conservators. Her personal life and her financial life were controlled by conservators. Her father acted in both roles.
Britney Spears Starts Her Fight Against the Conservatorship
For years, Mr. Spears had control over Ms. Spears’ life. Court records show that he controlled things from the color of her kitchen cabinets to who she dated and whether or not she could have more children.
While the conservatorship remained in place, Ms. Spears continued to work. She put out albums, starred in a four-year Las Vegas residency, and was a judge on The X Factor.
But, she was still unable to control decisions about her personal and financial life.
It’s reported that Ms. Spears was unhappy with the details of her conservatorship for years, but it wasn’t until the #FreeBritney movement and a documentary, Framing Briteny Spears, gained media attention that she finally got to share some of her story.
In April 2021, Ms. Spears requested to speak in court. It was the first time that she would voice her opinion about the conservatorship, and the details she released were jarring. On June 23, Ms. Spears spoke before a Los Angeles judge and called the conservatorship “abusive.”
“I just want my life back. It’s been 13 years and it’s enough,” Ms. Spears said.
“I was told right now in the conservatorship, I’m not able to get married or have a baby. I have an I[U]D inside of myself right now so I don’t get pregnant. I wanted to take the IUD out so I could start trying to have another baby, but this so-called team won’t let me go to the doctor to take it out because they don’t want me to have children,” she shared in her statement.
This was the tipping point that helped Ms. Spears earn a bit of her freedom.
Is Britney Spears Free Yet?
Ms. Spears had two conservators, one to oversee her personal affairs and one to oversee her finances. Her father had originally served in both roles, but in 2019, he stepped down as the guardian of Ms. Spear’s personal affairs. The June 2021 court appearance was an attempt to remove Mr. Spears from maintaining control of Ms. Spear’s financial affairs.
After Ms. Spears’ testimony, the judge didn’t immediately end Mr. Spears’ conservatorship role. But the testimony did set off a series of events that may lead to Ms. Spears gaining full control of her life.
As reported by The New York Times, in September, a judge granted a petition by Ms. Spears’ lawyer, suspending Mr. Spears from his position as overseer of his daughter’s $60 million estate. A California accountant, John Zabel, was named as the temporary conservator of the singer’s finances, as requested by Ms. Spears’ team.
Ms. Spears is still under a conservatorship, but it is no longer managed by her father. Now, Ms. Spears’ team is seeking to have the conservatorship removed altogether.
Britney Spears isn’t fully free yet, but it looks like her conservatorship may come to an end at a hearing scheduled for November.
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