Written by Sasha Araujo

Celebrity Conservatorships: Britney Spears

Britney Spears is no stranger to tabloids, but recently, the headlines about Britney have not been about her music and success; rather, the focus has been on her high-profile and seemingly controversial conservatorship. In 2008, Britney involuntarily entered a conservatorship. After an unfortunate and very public “meltdown” in 2008, following years of living under a microscope and harassment by the paparazzi, a court determined that Britney was incapable of managing her own affairs and appointed her father, Jamie, to serve as her conservator. Essentially, Britney was no longer to control any aspect of her life, including decisions regarding her own medical care.

In the new documentary “Framing Britney Spears”, released by the New York Times (available for streaming via Hulu), we gain insight to the fact that Britney never wanted her father to take on the role of conservator. He apparently did not have a significant role in her life prior to the 2008 conservatorship and she made clear to her own legal team that she would much rather have a court-appointed professional, such as a financial analyst, serve in the role of conservator.

For better or worse, Spears’ wishes were denied. Almost immediately after the conservatorship was put in place, Jamie arranged numerous interviews, award show appearances and performances. She then went on to release four albums in a span of about 7 years and landed a residency here in Las Vegas at our very own at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. The residency ran from 2013 to 2017 and grossed over $138 million.

Britney’s conservatorship only allows her access to cash, or “spending money” of $1,500 weekly, or $72,000 a year. Jamie, however, walks away with approximately $120,000 a year as compensation for his services as her conservator. She also pays upwards of $1 million a year in legal fees. As of 2019, Britney has refused to perform so long as her father remains her conservator. She “postponed” a residency that was scheduled to start in 2019, but recently announced via Instagram that the show would be cancelled altogether. She cited her father’s recent health scare as the reason for her indefinite hiatus as a performer; but her attorney has spoken out and asserted that Britney is scared of Jamie.

After an altercation between Jamie and one of Britney’s teenage sons, Jamie temporarily stepped down from his role and a co-conservator was appointed. In 2020 Britney repeatedly petitioned the court to have her father removed as her conservator, but the judge extended his position. In February of 2021, Jamie requested a third conservator be added, but this request was denied. Though many Britney fans saw this as a small victory, they also sensed that it was a strategic move by Jamie, and they questioned his motives.

The #freebritney movement was first sparked back in 2009, when fans first learned what Britney’s conservatorship really meant and how it would impact her life. Many thought a conservatorship for someone so young and capable was inherently odd. The movement has gained great momentum, and pressure by activists has forced lawmakers to start looking into the systemic failures of conservatorships.

In late February, California Senator Bill Allen introduced SB-724, a bill that would allow a conservatee to choose their own legal counsel. The bill was passed by the California Senate Judiciary Committee and it is now headed to California’s Senate. Fans and supporters of the #freebritney movement are excited to see what the passage of this bill might mean for Britney and her case. Fans continue to rally behind Britney in her fight to end her conservatorship. If Britney is capable of releasing chart-topping albums, going on a world tour, and headlining a residency, then she is capable of personal and financial autonomy.

 

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