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Explained: Britney Spears’ Conservatorship Controversy

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The US pop star Britney Spears was under a conservatorship. Now, she wants to put an end to the “abusive” management of her business and personal life.

She told in a court in LA: “I want my life back”.

Her career has been in the hands of legal guardians in an arrangement known as a conservatorship since 2008.

It was a time when she faced a public mental health crisis.

Because of the court’s order her father, Jamie Spears, had control over her estate and private life.

Later, the singer wanted to dismiss her father from the role. So, she has called for him to be charged with “conservatorship abuse”.

Britney’s massive fans started a movement called the #FreeBritney campaign. They want the singer to regain autonomy over her affairs.

Then a documentary was released framing Britney Spears which centred on the conflict over the singer’s guardianship.

What is meant by conservatorship?

It is granted by a court for people who cannot make their own decisions, like those with dementia or other mental sicknesses.

Spears’ conservatorship is divided into two parts – for her estate and financial affairs; for her as a person.

Therefore, the singer has not controlled her finances since 2008.

In the beginning, Jamie Spears was in charge of both parts of the agreement. But in 2019 he stepped down from his role as Britney’s personal conservator due to health reasons. 

Jodi Montgomery, a care professional, replaced him temporarily but Britney Spears has requested that this be made permanent.

As per the confidential court records Britney had stated serious disapproval to the conservatorship earlier than had previously been reported. 

Records also showed that the conservatorship restricted aspects of her life.

“She feels the conservatorship has become an oppressive and controlling tool against her,” a court investigator wrote in a 2016 report. 

The conservatorship had “too much control,” Spears said, according to the account of the conversation. “Too, too much!”

In November 2020, a judge declined to remove Mr Spears but named the financial firm the Bessemer Trust as a co-conservator of her estate instead.

After a month, Mr Spears’ conservatorship was extended until September 2021.

Why conservatorship?

In 2007, Britney got divorced from Kevin Federline and lost custody of their two children. So, she began behaving erratically.

Numerous public incidents raised concern about her mental health.

She started making weird headlines – shaving her head and hitting a photographer’s car with an umbrella.

In 2008 she was twice admitted to hospital under a temporary psychiatric assessment ruling, including after an incident in which she allegedly refused to surrender her sons in a stand-off involving police.

Hence, a temporary conservatorship was established which gradually extended for over a decade.

In the years under the conservatorship, Spears has not been short of work: she released three albums, held a successful Las Vegas residency, and made frequent television appearances, including a stint as a judge on the US X Factor.

 

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