Britney Spears is to finally address an LA court as the battle over her conservatorship becomes ever more public.
Britney, 39, will appear at the Superior Court in Los Angeles remotely at 4:30pm ET on Wednesday (23 June).
What exactly Britney plans to say has not been made clear in advance. However, it’s assumed she will speak against the role her father, Jamie Spears, plays in her conservatorship.
According to explosive court documents seen by The New York Times, Britney has sparred against Jamie’s role in the 13-year-long arrangement since at least 2014.
Her lawyer, Samuel Ingham, once came equipped with a “shopping list” of grievances that included concerns over Jamie’s drinking, according to Tuesday’s report (22 June).
Court investigators concluded in a 2016 report, according to the outlet, that Britney felt the “conservatorship has become an oppressive and controlling tool against her” and she is “sick of being taken advantage of”.
The report described Jamie as being “obsessed” with controlling his daughter’s life, alleging that he would not allow her to make friends without his approval.
It remains unclear if Britney Spears’ latest court remarks will be made in public. In part, it all comes down to whether judge Brenda Penny rules that the proceedings should be sealed at the last minute.
Wait, what is a conservatorship?
Known in some US states as a guardianship, a conservatorship is a complex legal arrangement typically used for the vulnerable, such as the elderly, ill or infirm.
For the most part, conservatorships see the court appoint a person to handle two main strnds of an appointee’s life: Their financial and personal affairs.
This can include making decisions for the appointee’s career, such as business deals, as well as controlling their estate.
A personal conservator can oversee the person’s healthcare, housekeeping, wellbeing, decide who can see them – including family members – and even who they can date.
Conservators can be trained caretakers, loved ones or, for handling an estate in particular, a specific financial management company.
In Britney Spears’ conservatorship, the two key figures have been Jamie Spears and, since 2019, Jodi Montgomery, the singer’s long-time and court-appointed care manager.
How does Britney Spears’ conservatorship work?
Britney was placed under her conservatorship in 2008. From then until 2019, Jamie had power over her life choices, while he and attorney Andrew Wallet controlled her money.
Jamie had to step down temporarily in 2019 due to ill health, and no longer has control over Britney’s private life. Only Jodie Montgomery is conservator of her person.
Jamie must also now share his financial decision-making power with the Bessemer Trust, an estate management firm.
Leaked court documents suggest Britney Spears is seeking substantial changes, if not a complete end to the “oppressive” arrangement.
The New York Times’ reported that Britney told the courts in 2019 that she felt she’d been forced to perform against her will.
And in one tense flashpoint, she was allegedly forced to stay at a mental health facility. She reportedly saw it as a “punishment” for standing up for herself during a rehearsal.
The conservatorship also sees Jamie receive a percentage of various deals signed for Britney, such as commissions from tours of revenues from merchandising.
The 68-year-old’s legal representation has previously denied claims that Jamie is controlling her daughter. But this has done little to temper the scrutiny waged from the #FreeBritney movement, as well as from the documentary Framing Britney Spears.
So, can Britney Spears get out of the conservatorship?
In theory, yes.
Spears has always been free to end her binding conservatorship, Jamie’s attorneys have claimed.
Attorney Vivian L Thoreen told People in March: “Any time Britney wants to end her conservatorship, she can ask her lawyer to file a petition to terminate it; she has always had this right, but in 13 years has never exercised it.
“Britney knows that her daddy loves her, and that he will be there for her whenever and if she needs him, just as he always has been — conservatorship or not.”
But practically speaking, it’s not quite that easy. Disability rights and civil liberties activists have slammed the arrangement as one that essentially strips someone of their decision-making capabilities and as tricky to get out of.
Britney would essentially have to ask the court to dissolve it by proving her own competence, something difficult and burdensome to do.
What does she want?
Britney Spears has rarely discussed her conservatorship in public, but it’s been made clear in the courts that she wants her father to be removed completely.
Montgomery, on the other hand, who was initially installed on a temporary basis, Britney has requested to be made permanent.
And as Ingham made clear in court filings last summer, the possibility of her ending the conservatorship is one she wishes to remain on the cards.
“Without in any way waiving her right to seek termination of this conservatorship in the future,” he wrote, “Britney would like Ms Montgomery’s appointment as conservator of her person to be made permanent.”
While judges have ruled against removing Jamie altogether, Britney has notched small gains. Jamie must now share his control over her finances with a corporate fiduciary. Montgomery’s role was also extended to September this year.
As long as her father, a man she once said she is “afraid” of, retains control, Britney has vowed to never perform again.