What Is a Conservatorship and How Can Britney Spears Get Out of Hers?

What Is a Conservatorship and How Can Britney Spears Get Out of Hers?
(Photo by Chris Polk/FilmMagic)

The release of the New York Times documentary Framing Britney Spears has sent the world into a collective tailspin this week. The production, which focuses on the career and tumultuous personal life of Spears, has driven droves of people to speak out in support of the pop star; calling out the poor treatment she has faced over the course of her time in the spotlight.

If you’re wondering when we’ll be able to watch the documentary episode in Australia, I’m sorry to report that we don’t have any news on that front just yet. For the moment, you’ll need a VPN to access FX or Hulu in the USA and watch Framing Britney Spears there.

While we wait for more on that front, however, I thought it would be worthwhile taking a moment to discuss one of the central points of the documentary, and the entire #FreeBritney movement: her conservatorship.

What is a conservatorship?

As Harpers Bazaar reports, a conservatorship is defined by the California Courts as:

“a court case where a judge appoints a responsible person or organisation (called the “conservator”) to care for another adult (called the “conservatee”) who cannot care for himself or herself or manage his or her own finances.”

In Spears’ case, her father Jamie Spears has stood as conservator for over 10 years. The court ruling came into place after Spears’ very public mental health crisis in 2008. After suffering a breakdown, Spears was hospitalised and spent a period in rehab. At this time it was believed her conservatorship would be temporary, but the arrangement doesn’t appear to have an end date in sight.

The results of this conservatorship have meant that Jamie Spears has long been in charge of all decisions pertaining to Spears’ finances, health, career and personal life.

As the NYT has reported, Mr Spears gave up his position as a personal conservator in 2019 due to health issues. A professional conservator has taken his place for the moment. This is a matter the courts continue to deliberate over now.

Can Britney take back control of her life?

According to court documents that emerged in August 2020, Britney Spears’ conservatorship has been described as a “voluntary” one. However, Harpers Bazaar reports that the performer has expressed her wishes to gradually regain control of her assets and personal life.

Back in 2020, Spears’ lawyer shared that the artist was “strongly opposed” to her father acting as conservator. It was requested that the professional conservator currently in place take the position permanently. This request was made with the caveat, as the NYT has shared, that it doesn’t waive Britney Spears’ “right to seek termination of this conservatorship in the future.”

It has been reported that more decisions will be made regarding the state of this arrangement in February 2021 (this month). At present, however, there’s no clear indication as to the likelihood or possible timeline around the end of Spears’ conservatorship.

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