Why Britney Spears Should Be Free Of Her Conservatorship
For over a dozen years, the pop star Britney Spears has not been the one controlling her estate due to a set of legal rules known as a conservatorship. According to the Superior Court of California, a conservatorship is a legal concept that allows a judge to grant a person, known as a guardian, full control over an individual’s finances if that person is mentally or physically unfit to manage them by themselves . In other words, the effective control of the person’s affairs is granted to another individual who stands as a trustee towards the person. The individual on whose behalf those rights are held is known as a conservatee, while the person exercising the rights on their behalf is known as a conservator.
In the case of Britney Spears’ conservatorship, the arrangement is split into two different parts-one is for her estate and financial affairs, whilst the other is for her person. Under this arrangement, Britney Spears has not been in control of her finances since 2008. However, one may ask why these conservatorship arrangements came about. In 2007, Ms Spears suffered from a mental illness that resulted in a series of erratic behaviour such as shaving her head, hitting a Paparazzo’s car with an umbrella and lapping her son while driving . She was eventually admitted twice into a hospital for a temporary psychiatric assessment ruling, which also included a stand-off with the police refusing to hand over her sons. It was during this time that her father, Jamie Spears, applied to the court for temporary conservatorship over the estate and person of his daughter.
However, with the passage of time, Britney has grown distraught over the conservatorship which was hoisted on her. In a recent court hearing on the 23rd of June 2021, the Pop icon told a Los Angeles court judge that she intends to end the ‟abusive” conservatorship in order for her to get married and raise more children. During the 20 minutes emotional address, the star told the court that ‟I want to end this conservatorship without being evaluated”. She further went ahead to condemn the arrangement stating that it compelled her to use birth control, such as the IUD against her will, which prevents her from getting pregnant. ‟this conservatorship is doing me way more harm than good, I deserve to have a life”. This goes to show that the current arrangement isn’t favourable anymore to her and it should be discarded accordingly due to the following reasons.
Firstly, while it could be argued that when this arrangement came into force in 2008, that it was necessary and very much in the interest of Ms. Spears’, however, it has morphed up to caging the star and not allowing her the basic rights she deserves as a person. During a 2008 MTV Documentary titled; Britney: for the Record; the star was very candid in pointing out the downside of not being in control of her own affairs; ‟Even when you go to jail, you know, there is a time when you are going to get out. But in this situation, its never ending, its just like the movie ‘Groundhog Day . This paints a picture of a woman in need of a break from the conservatorship and desirous of taking charge of her own life.
Various individuals have weighed in with their support during the course of this 13 years old conservatorship. According to her brother, Bryan Spears, during a rare interview on Drews Plotkin’s Podcast; As Not Seen on TV, ‟ She’s been in this thing for quite some time now. Obviously, there was a need for it in the beginning. Now they’ve made some changes and all we do is hope for the best”, said Bryan. ‟She’s always wanted out of it. It’s very frustrating to have, whether someone’s coming in peace to help or coming in with an attitude, having someone constantly tell you to do something has got to be frustrating. She’s wanted to get out of it for quite some time” . Other celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Bette Midler, Justin Timberlake and Miley Cyrus have offered their support. The more powerful movement is the #FreeBritney by her fans. They have regularly shown their support at various court hearings and offered the much-needed support to Ms. Spears during this whole saga.
Furthermore, after all these years of being under a conservatorship, it is important to re-evaluate the necessity for such arrangement. Under the current arrangement, her conservators decide whether or not she works, as she cannot enter into contracts for herself because she lacks the legal capacity to do so. Britney Spears also needs permission from her conservators to leave her house or even to spend any of her own money. She can also be required to perform against her will or use certain drugs. Whilst she could legally get married, the conservatorship must first approve of it alongside other major life decisions she may wish to take. This isn’t a favourable arrangement and the courts ought to free her from the burdens of this conservatorship. She has spoken out against her father whom she accused of abusing the conservatorship arrangement. In her own words ‟I have to get rid of my dad and charge him with conservatorship abuse ,” she said during an address to the court on 14th July 2021. A conservatorship abuse takes the form of financial exploitation of the estate of the conservatee or imposing excessive personal restrictions on the person.
It is very paramount that the wishes of Ms. Spears be granted. A conservatorship is meant to serve the interests of the conservatee and not hoist upon them endless sufferings and pains as the singer of our cherished ‟Baby One More Time” currently finds herself. She has also suggested that in place of her dad, Mr. Jamie Spears, that she is desirous of having Jodi Montgomery, a woman described as Britney’s ‟care giver”, as the head of the conservatorship. Also, according to documents filed on 1st September 2020, which was obtained by Entertainment Tonight , Britney Spears also requested the court to appoint Bessemer Trust Company, National Association, as co-conservator of her estate, enabling it to oversee her finances and the power of attorney with respect to her health and musical career. These are her wishes and since she no longer believes that her father, Mr. Jamie Spears, whom her attorney Samuel Ingham said that Ms. Spears is afraid of , has her interests at heart, it is only just that the court grants her requests.
Thirdly, a conservatorship isn’t meant to be a life sentence and it ought to be ended when the conditions that necessitated its imposition in the first are no more. In the case of Britney Spears, the star has gotten back to her normal mental state following the unfortunate events of 2007 that led to the conservatorship. Her mental and psychological assessments have been stable over the years and she hasn’t shown any inclinations towards violent behaviours. Rather she has been the one who has been abused times over and even traumatised following the far-reaching control of the conservatorship which has nearly wiped out her personal rights as a human.
Instances abound of individuals who were once under the shackles of a conservatorship but eventually managed to wrestle control of their estate and personal lives from their conservators. For instance, the Grammy Award winner Kanye West was once placed on an involuntary psychiatric hold in 2016 for ‟temporary psychosis” has since opened up about his bipolar disorder and is very much in control of his estate. Another celebrity who is currently under a conservatorship arrangement is Amanda Bynes. Following various bouts of involuntary psychiatric holds between 2013 to 2014, Ms. Bynes was committed to a conservatorship under which her mother, Lynn Bynes, was appointed as her guardian. Ms. Bynes was later diagnosed with a bipolar and manic-depressive disorder and ever since has been working towards her improvement and growth which resulted in her graduating from a fashion school in 2019. According to a report by People Amanda Bynes was given control over her finances in 2017 but her mother still retains control over person. Speaking to fans in February 2020, the celebrity informed her fans that she still intends to keep fighting against the conservatorship until she regains full control.
Therefore, from the foregoing, it is very much clear that the conservatorship hoisted on Britney Spears has long outlived its purpose. It has instead worked hardship and abuse against the star and has completely made her victim of her very own circumstances. It isn’t proper for this arrangement to continue because it continued existence would only further damage rather than do good to Britney Spears. The duration of the conservatorship which is over a decade old should be a concern to any well-meaning individual as during that period she has not been able to have more children as she has always intended but has rather been placed under conditions that effectively forces her to use birth controls abet against her wishes. While it was initially set up to protect her estate and personhood following her divorce from her husband, Kelvin Federline and the various actions that necessitated the conservatorship, the present realities however show that it has only hoisted more burdens on the celebrity. And according to the star, she wants the legal conservatorship to ‟reflect her current lifestyle and her stated wishes”
It is also important to note that despite being under the control of the conservatorship, she has continued to earn money from her music sales, her Las Vegas residency show,‟ Britney: Piece of Me” which ran between 2013 to 2017 as well as her business venture into perfumes which includes Fantasy and Curious. She was also reported to have been paid $15 million for her part as one of the judges on the X Factor TV show organised by Fox TV. This a glowing testament to her mental strengths and abilities to keep making progress despite the many daunting challenges she faces.
Another important issue that bears noting is the amount this conservatorship has cost Ms. Spears. According to Forbes , the star is worth a total of $60 million and of this amount, she has paid her father, Jamie Spears, a total of $5 million before taxes since 2008. She has also had to pay millions of dollars in legal fees for herself and her conservators. Also, ever since her father was appointed as the conservator in charge of her estate in February 2008, Britney Spears has had to pay him a total of $16,000 monthly for compensation which according to Forbes, over the duration of the years conservatorship, has totalled into $2.4 million. Additionally, a report obtained from the New York Times showed that her father also received portions of her revenues derived from her tours. This explains her accusations that her father forced her to perform against her will. Also, in addition to the amounts Britney Spears pays her father as part of a court ordered salary, she has also spent close to $300,000 renting an office for her father. Little wonder why the star stated before Judge Brenda Penny that ‟considering my family has lived off my conservatorship for 13 years, I won’t be surprised if one of them has something to say against ending my conservatorship, I just don’t feel like I work for the people who I pay”. This sums up her frustration and considering the expenses she has endured during the duration of this conservatorship; it is only right that she be granted full and unfettered control of her finances.
In conclusion, it is clear from the above that Britney Spears is a victim of a conservatorship which no longer serves her interests. It is therefore in the interest of justice that this arrangement be discarded in order to give the singer of our beloved ‟Toxic” ‟Gimme More”, control over her own affairs.
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