#FreeBritney – what is conservatorship and what does it mean for the star?

Over the last few years, a lot of attention has focused on Britney Spears and more specifically, the control her father has over her business and personal life.

After a well-documented public breakdown in 2007, the pop star’s father Jamie applied to be conservator of her business and personal affairs as reported on Sky News. A conservatorship is similar to the power of attorney in the UK and is usually applied in cases where people do not have the mental capacity to make decisions regarding their care or money, usually applied if someone has dementia or another mental illness.

In Britney’s case, the conservatorship was split in two – one for her finances and estate and other for her as a person. She has not had control over her finances since 2008. Her father took on the conservatorship for both parts but in 2019, he stepped down from his role as her personal conservator. A care professional was appointed to do this temporarily, although Britney has requested the arrangement be made permanent.

‘Humiliating and embarrassing’

The singer was back in court this week arguing for an end to the conservatorship. In an impassioned speech to an open court, Britney told the judge she found the arrangements “humiliating and embarrassing” and “abusive”. It is not the first time she has spoken in court about the conservatorship, but this is the first time it has been held in public.

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She alleged that at one time she’d been sent to hospital against her will and that her medication had been switched without her knowledge. She also wants to marry her boyfriend, the Iranian actor and model Sam Asghari, and have a baby. The conservatorship will not allow her to do this, and she told the court she has been forced to use birth control against her will to stop her getting pregnant.

Net worth of $59m

Since the conservatorship was put in place, Britney has released three albums, made numerous TV appearances and held a residency in Las Vegas until 2019. According to Business Insider, her net worth in 2018 was about $59 million.

Jamie Spears and his legal team say that the star and her fortune remain vulnerable to fraud and manipulation and that he has saved her from financial ruin.

In 2009, a grassroots movement #FreeBritney started – fans of the star who believe the conservatorship is wrong. Tens of thousands of people have signed petitions asking the White house to intervene. While Britney herself had not spoken in public about the issue before now, fans have claimed she sent coded messages on Instagram hinting at her concerns.

Britney’s court-appointed attorney Samuel Ingham III said Spears had informed him that now she has spoken out in public and made her feelings on the conservatorship clear, she wanted to keep future proceedings private.

He added that he will discuss the issues of formally filing for termination of the conservatorship with the star and the introduction of a private counsel to represent her. Terminating the conservatorship can’t happen until a formal request is lodged with the court.