After years of battles over Britney Spears’ conservatorship, the star’s father, Jamie Spears, has agreed to step down from his position as her conservator.
Britney Spears has been under the conservatorship since 2008, when she suffered from various mental health problems under intense media scrutiny. In July, Ms. Spears declared that, as long as her father remained in control of her life, she would not perform again, and petitioned to replace him as her conservator.
Traditionally, conservatorships are intended for adults who, due to an injury or severe mental health conditions, are determined to be incompetent of caring for their own affairs and lives.
Essentially, Ms. Spears’ choices have been out of her hands for the past 13 years. Though her father ceded control of her personal decisions to her management team in 2019, he still maintains significant control over her as he oversees estate and financial decisions.
Earlier this year, Spears reported herself to 911 as a victim of conservatorship abuse. Speaking about the arrangement for the first time, she described how she has been exploited and oppressed.
One of the more harrowing moments in her statement was when she revealed that she had been forced to keep an internal contraceptive, an IUD, that she was against having.
Spears also accused her conservators of forcing her to work overtime and to enter a mental health facility.
After this testimony, the Bessemer Trust, which was the co-conservator of her estate, decided to withdraw from the arrangement.
Mr Spears has been accused of using his position as conservator to reap the financial rewards of his daughter’s career. This is because Britney is required to pay her conservators, and her father generates a six-figure salary from his role as conservator.
Jamie Spears’ motives in maintaining the arrangement for so long have therefore been under intense scrutiny.
In 2009, fans began what came to be known as the #FreeBritney movement. It advocates for an end to the conservatorship and has garnered increased support following the release of the Framing Britney Spears documentary.
Ms. Spears own testimony in June’s court hearings also contributed to widespread public support for her freedom.
One of the movement’s main arguments is that Ms. Spears’ ability to work to a high standard – even a short time after the conservatorship was established – contrasts with her alleged mental incapacity to make her own decisions.
The growth of the #FreeBritney movement has also drawn attention to the nature of conservatorships. Disability rights advocates have long questioned the potential for abuse in such arrangements.
The law in California, for example, does not guarantee conservatees the right to choose their legal representation. Their concerns appear to be reflected in the case of Britney Spears, too.
Mr Spears has been accused of emotionally abusing his daughter, insulting and isolating her, and as noted above, has financially benefited from the conservatorship.
Even though Britney’s father and his team have agreed to relinquish their role as conservators, they are yet to give a timeline for when Mr Spears will officially step down from the role.
Britney Spears has stated that she wants the conservatorship to end completely, but her father’s stepping down does not guarantee that the legal arrangement is over.
The fight to #FreeBritney will have to continue in order for Ms. Spears to regain control over her life.