On My Radar #FreeBritney
Updated: Aug 12
Let's make the conservative judgement that you are either on the internet all the time during lockdown or recently watched an episode of Bo Burnam's 'Inside' and decided that was enough internet for the day. But no matter what- the case of Britney Spears' Conservatorship is on my radar.
What is a Conservatorship? A conservatorship involves a presiding judge appointing a responsible person (the conservator) to care for another adult called the conservatee. The Judicial Branch of California delineated between two types of conservatorships. They are Probate Conservatorships and Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Conservatorships. The law on conservatorships follows the guidelines in the California Probate Code. Probate diverge into two main categories;
General Conservatorships — conservatorships of adults who cannot take care of themselves or their finances. Typically, conservatees are often elderly and in need of support. However, they but can also be younger people who are seriously impaired.
Limited Conservatorships — regulate the conservatorships of adults with developmental disabilities. Limited conservatorships do not stipulate additional levels of care on the conservatee.
The duties of a conservator of the person are somewhat listless and give rise to serious concerns regarding privacy. The conservator must arrange for their care and protection, decide where the conservatee will live and determine the conservators';
In contrast, LPS conservatorships apply to adults with serious mental health illnesses. These conservatorships are used for people who usually need very restrictive living arrangements (like living in locked facilities) and require extensive mental health treatment (e.g. powerful drugs to control behaviour). Additionally, local government agencies enact LPS conservatorships.
Given the dance between the somewhat public yet intensely private court proceedings, it's uncertain which conservatorship specifically applies to Britney. However, what has the public incensed, is not necessarily the application of the conservatorship, but its indeterminate termination date. The New York Times reported that in 2007, [Britney] was struggling herself.
"Humiliation by the press, stalking by the paparazzi, speculation around her mental health and substance abuse and a custody battle over her two young sons helped lead Ms Spears to a breaking point."
However, it's been thirteen years since our idol experienced a very human moment and arguably needed much more TLC than she needs today. The problem, still- is that her conservatorship is no longer working for her, it's working against her. This is evident in her ability to resume working, whilst looking after herself and her family. However, as the general public, we can only know how things appear. We will never be privy to the details of her life and at this time- and in the courtroom.
However, whilst there is substantial contention over why she end the conservatorship. Some of the pre-requisites that need to be met regarding ending the conservatorship include;
The conservatee becomes able to handle their affairs
Someone may have a conservator while they recover from a physical or mental condition that is temporarily disabling. After rehabilitation, the conservatee may recover and be able to take care of things again. In these cases, either the conservatee, the conservator, a relative or friend of the conservatee, can ask the court to end the conservatorship. This requires a re-evaluation of the conservatee's condition to see if it should be ended. If the judge terminates the conservatorship, the conservator will be released from their duties.
The court removes the conservator
The court may remove a conservator who is not doing the job or is not able to do it and then appoint a new conservator. The conservatee or any of his or her relatives or friends may ask the court to remove and replace the conservator. If the conservatee makes the request and does not have his or her lawyer, the judge will generally appoint one to file the petition for the conservatee.
The conservator resigns
If the conservator becomes ill or cannot continue fulfilling their duties, the conservator can file a petition asking the court to accept their resignation. Until (and unless) the court accepts the resignation, the conservator is still fully responsible as conservator. Unfortunately, this might not be the best solution for Britney either because even if the Court does accept their resignation, it doesn't immediately vitiate the conservatorship.
The conservatee doesn’t have any more assets
Sometimes all of the conservatee's assets will be spent for his or her care. Without assets, there may no longer be a need for a conservatorship of the estate. The conservatorship of the person continues if necessary. Given that Britney has been consistently working and is by all accounts still a major star and serving nothing but joy on Instagram. She is an asset, to herself and those around her. But in terms of her fiscal assets, it doesn't seem as though this option is the best approach to ending the conservatorship either.
The conservator/tee dies
The conservatorship ends when the conservatee dies. But the Court will not automatically release the conservator from his or her duties and close the conservatorship until the conservator takes certain actions to finish the case. Look, I'm just going to say it now I don't think this is the most favourable option here, or even least favourable. Yikes.
Okay, so now we know some of the legal avenues that are available to her legal team. What is the current status of her case? At the moment, it's alleged that her lawyers' request to expedite the case was denied by the presiding Judge in the matter. Whilst it is not news that the course of justice can be slow, we are yet to be blessed with the news of what it would take to end the conservatorship. #FreeBritney