AS BRITNEY SPEARS NEARS CROSSROADS, WILL HER CONSERVATOR LET HER GET MARRIED?
The Great Britney Spears Debate: Does she still need a conservator? Back in 2008, it was clear – the pop superstar needed serious help. Rehab didn’t work. Therapy wasn’t enough. Without dramatic court intervention, Britney Spears’ career – and her very life in fact – were at risk.
Britney herself credits her father, Jamie Spears, with saving her life. When he was appointed as one of her court-ordered conservators, Jamie Spears (along with attorney Andrew Wallet), assumed legal responsibility for making all of Britney’s decisions. Where does she live? How does she spend her money? What career moves should she make? And even, can she get married?
Conservatorship, called guardianship in many states, is a dramatic remedy saved for only adults who lack the ability to make proper decisions for themselves. Typically, it’s used for seniors with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia, or adults with long-term problems like traumatic brain injuries. Before Britney, the long-term use of a conservator for an out-of-control young celebrity was unheard of.
But Britney certainly needed extraordinary help after her public meltdowns in 2007 and 2008 that included shaving her head, locking herself in a bathroom with one of her sons, battling substance abuse, and more. Her parents made the difficult decision to ask a court to intervene, and in the process, turn her life around.
Britney’s Spending is Public Record
To this day, the conservatorship remains in place. Jamie Spears and Andrew Wallet have to report to the court each year how every dime that Britney owns is managed and spent. Because conservator court proceedings are a matter of public record, anyone can go to the courthouse and look up how much Britney spends on manicures, Starbucks, child support, and more each year. And she cannot spend money on anything without her conservators’ permission.
The process has been used to protect Britney through years of ups and downs. There have been custody and support disputes related to her divorce from Kevin Federline, lawsuits filed against her by former manager Sam Lufti and others, and contracts to negotiate for her to serve as a TV judge and mentor on The X-Factor, among many others. Throughout it all, Britney has been able to focus on what she does best – sing and perform her music and be a mother to her two boys, now ages 12 and 13.
But the conservatorship process can’t continue forever, can it? Big changes on that front are certainly coming. Andrew Wallet recently stepped down as one of her conservators, leaving Britney’s father as the sole decision-maker. And Jamie, age 66, suffered a serious health crisis when his colon suddenly ruptured in November, 2018, leading to two different surgeries. Britney’s planned second Las Vegas show was postponed so she could be with her father during his long recovery. She said publicly that her father nearly died from his condition.
At the same time, there also have been recent reports that Britney’s growing relationship with boyfriend, Sam Asghari, may be progressing towards marriage. If tabloid reports are to be believed, a family friend says that Jamie is against the idea of another marriage for Britney because of the legal complications that a marriage would create. Without her father’s permission, Britney cannot get married — at least, she can’t marry while the conservatorship remains in place.
With these difficult issues lingering, Britney’s career keeps moving forward. Her upcoming Las Vegas show, Dominion, is on hold indefinitely, but not forever. Her first show was too successful – bringing in a reported $138 million during its four-year run – for there not to be a sequel. In fact, Britney Spears is guaranteed $500,000 per show for the next Vegas run. Beyond that, there is a new Britney-inspired musical comedy, Once Upon A One More Time, coming to Broadway soon, featuring 23 Britney Spears’ songs. But all of this success makes the unresolved questions even more difficult to answer.
Will Jamie, with his health concerns, step aside and turn the decision-making over to Britney? Or is the concern over her mental health too great for her to take on this responsibility? And if Jamie cannot continue in this role, will a stranger be given the authority to make these decisions?
Britney’s Boyfriend Stabilizing Force in Her Life
Reportedly, Britney’s boyfriend has been a stabilizing force in her life, helping her cope with her father’s medical struggles. But similar things were said during her engagement in 2011 to Jason Trawick, which ended with broken hearts rather than a wedding. Perhaps Jamie fears that this relationship will end the same way.
One thing is certain – the status quo that has worked so well for Britney Spears over the course of more than ten years is likely to change soon. On one hand, the conservatorship has worked, so it makes sense to leave it in place, even if Jamie is no longer able to handle the role. But on the other hand, many celebrities have multi-million dollar deals, difficult family dynamics, and other complications to manage and do so without someone else possessing the authority to make their decisions. Even celebrities with troubled pasts still have the right to decide when and whom to marry. Shouldn’t Britney’s growth and success over more than ten years have earned her that right too?
If the court overseeing her conservatorship does not feel that she is ready to take this on, then the answer will be “no,” unless her father approves. And right now, he likely is too focused on recovering to make difficult decisions with long-term implications like these. So Britney Spears is left in limbo, for now.
So what do you think: Does Britney Spears still need a conservator? We explore the topic in an upcoming episode of our television series, Fortune Fights, on the REELZ cable network.
Regardless of how you view this issue, one thing is clear – guardianship and conservatorship proceedings can save lives, but can also go too far. These are court-imposed remedies of last resort, because taking away someone’s rights to decide where and how to live, spend, and marry should never be done unless truly necessary.
Perhaps we’ll all find out in the near future if Britney Spears is ready for her basic rights as an adult to be restored.
Danielle and Andy Mayoras are co-authors of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!, television hosts and keynote speakers. You can find them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Be sure to check out their new TV show, Fortune Fights, on the REELZ channel.
[photo credit: Wikipedia]