The hashtag #FreeBritney is trending on Twitter as some people discovered for the first time that Britney Spears has been living under a conservatorship.
However, the movement to “free Britney” has existed for some time, and the pop star has been under a court-controlled conservatorship since 2008.
In 2019, Spears wrote on Instagram, “Don’t believe everything you read and hear. Your love and dedication is amazing, but what I need right now is a little bit of privacy to deal with all the hard things that life is throwing my way.” That year, The Los Angeles Times reported that Britney had cancelled her Las Vegas residency and gone to a mental health facility.
The Times conducted a months-long investigation into Britney’s conservatorship in 2019 but reported that it “could find no independent evidence that Spears was being harmed by the arrangement.” Still, the Times found that the legal conservatorship, or guardianship, was “highly unusual” because Britney has “worked nonstop,” producing albums and touring around the world. “Conservatorships are designed to protect people who cannot take care of themselves,” The Times noted.
— Audra (@AudraArt) July 5, 2020
A recent video that Spears posted online caused some concern among fans after she started walking in and out of the frame. “HOLY HOLY CRAP 😍 !!!!!! My florist surprised me today by making the flower arrangement all different colors 💐💐💐💐 ….. I was so excited I threw on my favorite yellow shirt and just had to SHARE 🌸🌸🌸⭐️⭐️⭐️ !!!!” she wrote in an Instagram caption with the video.
Here’s what you need to know:
Britney’s Conservatorship Was Extended Until August 2020
If Britney Spears can tour the world, perform a massive multi-year Vegas residency, and be the face of a fragrance empire, then she should be able to drive, vote, choose her own doctor, procure a lawyer, and leave her house without permission. #FreeBritney
— Simon Curtis (@simoncurtis) July 5, 2020
In May 2020, Entertainment Tonight obtained court documents revealing that Britney will be under conservatorship until at least August 22, 2020. That decision was made by Judge Brenda Penny.
ET reported that Britney has a temporary conservator named Jodi Montgomery. COVID-19 postponed a hearing, which resulted in the extension, according to ET, which reported that Jamie Spears, Britney’s father, was her original conservator but stepped aside in September 2019 because of health concerns.
Montgomery was described as “Spear’s longtime care manager.”
Spears accidentally set fire to her home gym, causing some lingering concerns, according to ET.
The Times quoted her attorney Stanton Stein as insisting: “She’s always involved in every career and business decision. Period.” However, the Times noted that such arrangements are usually reserved for the elderly or people who are mentally disabled.
Britney Spears Has Been Under a Conservatorship Since 2008 After a Series of Highly Public Mental Health Episodes
According to Business Insider, the conservatorship is a “legal guardianship typically enacted for those incapable of making their own decisions,” and it was approved by a court in 2008 after Britney’s father stepped in out of concern about several high-profile mental health breakdowns that Britney suffered.
“The arrangement put her estate, financial assets, and some personal assets under the control of her father and a lawyer,” Business Insider reported. According to The Washington Post, in 2019, that estate was worth $47 million. It’s not the first time that fans have rallied to Britney’s cause; in 2019, people protested on her behalf at a court hearing over the conservatorship, The Post reported.
The Times reported that the conservatorship initially allowed Britney’s dad to “oversee much of the minutiae of Spears’ life,” and he could file restraining orders “against those he believes threaten his daughter’s stability.” She was required to log every purchase in annual court reports, and her dad was able to restrict visitors and sell her property, according to The Times.
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In 2019, TMZ reported that Britney told the court her father “committed her to a mental health facility a month ago against her will and also forced her to take drugs.” According to TMZ, she spent time at a mental health facility after stopping taking drugs that kept her “stable.” However, TMZ noted, “Jamie Spears does not have the power under the conservatorship to either commit Britney against her will or to ply her with drugs against her will.” TMZ reported, via sources, that Britney wanted to end the conservatorship at that time.
The Washington Post reported that people close to Britney disagreed with the #FreeBritney movement’s concerns, saying that the conservatorship was in place because of “long-term mental-health issues.”
Larry Rudolph, Spears’s manager, told The Post: “The conservatorship is not a jail. It helps Britney make business decisions and manage her life in ways she can’t do on her own right now.” The Post added that Britney “doesn’t have an email address, and her father has the right to sign her tax forms, revoke all powers of attorney and “pursue opportunities related to professional commitments and activities… as long as they are approved by Ms. Spears’s medical team.”
The conservatorship was prompted by incidents including Britney losing custody of her two children; an incident in which she struck a car with an umbrella and shaved her head; and two psychiatric holds. She has recorded an album and gone on tour during the conservatorship.
The Free Britney Campaign Seeks to Give Britney Control Over Her Own Life & Finances
— Easily Bothered. (@CuteCrook) July 5, 2020
More than 14,000 people have signed a Change.org petition expressing concern that Britney is living under a conservatorship at age 38. It reads:
Since 2008 Britney Spears has been held in a conservatorship, this gives her conservator (Jamie Spears) full control over her life, body and finances/estate. Conservatorships are typically used for SEVERELY mentally ill individuals or people in comas. Having been on 4 world tours with dangerous flying and fire stunts, it’s safe to say she is sane enough to feed and clothe herself. With this conservatorship she is unable to properly fight for her freedom as she isn’t legally allowed to hire her own lawyer. We need this petition so that Britney can hire her own lawyer and live a normal life as a 38 year old woman with two kids.
Again, though, Britney’s dad is no longer acting as her conservator.