Since 2008, the conservatorship of Britney Spears has been a contentious issue. Brought about initially by very real concerns surrounding her mental health and ability to manage her personal life and finances, this has now become a battle over the legitimacy of the conservatorship itself. From a broader perspective, the outcome of this case has the potential to set future legal precedent regarding the use of conservatorships for cases involving high profile individuals struggling with mental and emotional distress.
As a probate law attorney with decades of experience, David Di Pietro has an expert perspective regarding the matter. Conservatorships can be a complex area of law, involving a number of different parties with potentially conflicting interests. Oftentimes when a dispute arises regarding the control of a conservatorship or even its legitimacy, it turns into a long drawn out and expensive legal battle. The current case involving the conservatorship of Britney Spears is a textbook example of how this can play out.
The basis of this dispute has to do with the circumstances that lead up to involuntary commitment of Britney, and the conservatorship she was subsequently placed under. Since early childhood, Spears was a born performer. Growing up in a relatively poor family in Kentwood, Louisiana, there was a tremendous amount of pressure for her to perform in order to ensure her family’s financial success. The household was reportedly unstable and her parents had a relatively poor marriage, which left a lasting effect on Britney.
After a long series of traumatic life events, such as her divorce from Kevin Federline, Britney was pushed over the edge and had a mental breakdown. This January 2008 episode resulted in her being put on a 5150 involuntary psychiatric hold, and the total loss of custody rights to her two children. Following this episode, her father, Jamie Spears and the rest of her family petitioned for her to be placed under a conservatorship, which was approved. The stated intention behind this was to ensure she did not destroy her fortune and financial assets, as well as to protect said assets from a number of different parties seeking to take advantage of Britney.
Conservatorship Legal Considerations
Conservatorships for young and successful people are exceedingly rare, and should be viewed with scrutiny. While on the surface a conservatorship seemed to be a wise solution for Britney at the time in order to protect her from herself, it is now being seriously questioned. With the upcoming legal proceedings, the necessity of the conservatorship is being called into question. Additionally, Britney herself has made wide ranging accusations that it was used as a tool by her family and their team of lawyers to financially exploit the fruits of her successful career.
When understanding the history behind Britney and her family that has led up to this point, it becomes increasingly difficult to disagree with these points. The picture painted increasingly shows her as a victim of her circumstances, financial success and a cumulation of lifelong stressful events leading up to her breakdown. As more of this becomes public knowledge, multiple groups and movements have started to provide support for Britney, such as #freebritney. Knowing all of this, there is a very good possibility that a court will find the placement of Britney under a conservatorship to be improper, with a judgement to formally end the conservatorship.
If this were to occur, it would open up a world of legal ramifications for those who are currently or previously involved with the management of the conservatorship, as well as those who worked for its creation in the first place. In fact, Britney herself has publicly stated that there will be lawsuits filed against her entire family for their involvement in placing her under the conservatorship. Time will tell how this plays out but it will likely have a lasting impact on the future of conservatorships for non-elderly individuals in the United States.