Britney Spears's Tumultuous Conservatorship Conflict

Caught in an extensive legal battle with father Jamie Spears, Britney is fighting for her autonomy and agency.
Tuesday 23 February 2021
Photo: Valerie Macon / AFP via Getty Images file

The recent release of ‘Framing Britney Spears’ has reignited the public’s interest in the pop sensation’s legal predicament. The documentary chronicles Britney’s culture-shifting career and her now 13 year-long court-sanctioned conservatorship.

According to the California Courts official site, a conservatorship is where a judge appoints an individual or organisation to care for another adult who is deemed unfit to care for themselves or to manage their own finances. Law experts note that it is highly unusual for someone as young and productive as Britney to be placed under conservatorship, a legal concept typically applied to individuals who are gravely disabled or those with severe mental limitation such as dementia.


Photo: Felicia Culotta


Britney had had a streak of very public breakdowns in 2008. Events such as shaving her head, attacking a paparazzo with an umbrella and a police standoff involving her two young children had led to this “Womaniser” singer being admitted to a psychiatric hospital for a 5150 Hold—a protocol that allows for an individual with mental illness to be involuntarily held for 72-hour psychiatric evaluation. 

It was then when her father Jamie Spears had first petitioned for an emergency and “temporary” conservatorship, hinting at Britney’s inability to care for herself amid her mental health struggles. He was given legal rights to oversee and make decisions for Britney’s finances, health, business deals, even her personal life. 


Britney and mother, Lynne Spears. Photo: Ron Galella, LTD. Getty Images


Under his conservatorship, Britney has released multiple albums, held a four-year Las Vegas residency, and made multiple appearances on television. In 2018, Britney, whose net worth at the time was a resounding $59 million, spent $1.1 million on legal and conservator fees, a report by Entertainment Tonight reveals. Jamie Spears took home $128,000 of that amount. In 2019, he stepped down as her main conservator, citing his health issues. 

As of 2020, the 39-year-old songbird has launched a legal bid to remove her father as her conservator. Her lawyers said that she was “afraid of her father” and insisted on putting her career on hold as long as he is in control of her autonomy. Instead, she preferred to have Jodi Montgomery, who had taken up the task when Jamie Spears retired from his role. Since filing the request in August, it has been revealed that Britney has not spoken to her father. 

Though she is looking to restructure her conservatorship, Britney is not seeking to dissolve it completely. She called on her mother, Lynne Spears to help her ease back into normalcy by taking part in her current legal predicament. 


Jamie Spears. Photo: AP


In a recent update, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny has denied Jamie Spears the role of sole conservator over Britney’s estate. He is to share the responsibilities with Bessemer Trust, a wealth management and investment advisory firm. “It’s no secret that my client does not want her father as co-conservator, but we recognise that removal is a separate issue,” lawyer Samuel D. Ingham III commented. 

The next hearings between Britney and her father are scheduled for 17 March and 27 April. However, her conservatorship is to remain, at the very least, until next February.