Here’s what Britney Spears’ case means for current and future conservatorships

Maddy Reda | @maddyreda1, Staff Reporter

Britney Spears, who was finally able to create an Instagram account owned and run by herself, has been posting frequently and sharing steamy selfies, videos and thoughtful captions about her newfound freedoms.

“I actually got my first glass of champagne at the most beautiful restaurant I’ve ever seen last night!!!!” Spears wrote in a recent Instagram post. “I’m celebrating my freedom and my B-day for the next two months !!!!!!!!!!! I mean after 13 years … I think I’ve waited long ENOUGH!!!!”

Freedom bells are tolling for pop sensation Spears as she celebrates the end of her conservatorship, which was officially terminated by a Los Angeles judge on Nov. 12.

According to California Courts, a conservatorship is “a court case where a judge appoints a responsible person or organization to care for another adult who cannot care for himself or herself or manage his or her finances.” 

Fans questioned the validity of the conservatorship almost immediately, seeing as conservatorships are usually put in place to protect people with severe disabilities or mental illnesses that may affect one’s ability to independently advocate for themselves. 

Some people, as pointed out by Spears herself, have used court-appointed conservator powers to do the opposite.

While Spears was unable to speak publicly about her conservatorship, the surge of previously sealed court documents made public by The New York Times revealed that Spears has been filing for her independence for close to a decade, saying that she was “the one working and earning her money but everyone around her is on her payroll.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, Judge Brenda J. Penny has fully returned Spears’ legal rights, effective immediately.

For the first time in over 13 years, Spears finally has independent access to her finances, health care, estate and music royalties.

According to Forbes, James Parnell Spears, the father of Britney Spears, has made at least $5 million from Britney’s conservatorship as her primary guardian. Court documents revealed that Britney has been paying her father $16,000 per month since February 2009. 

Per his attorney, Jamie Spears said the circumstances have changed to such an extent that grounds for establishment of a conservatorship may no longer exist” after filing a petition for his removal from the conservatorship sometime in September due to public pressure.

Some observers pointed out that the problem didn’t start and end with Spears’ father, but also encompassed the abusive, toxic and controlling nature of the conservatorship itself. The conservatorship changing hands wouldn’t restore Spears’ reproductive or financial rights

Spears is reportedly doing a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey to discuss the intricacies of conservatorships for those with severe disabilities rather than celebrities, who are more likely to have the publicity and resources to get out of a negative situation.

“I’m not here to be a victim,” Spears said via Twitter. “I’m here to be an advocate for people with real disabilities and real illnesses. I’m a very strong woman, so I can only imagine what the system has done to those people.”

Spears is hopeful that her story will make an impact and make some changes in the corrupt system of conservatorships.

Questions? Email the Culture desk at culture@cw.ua.edu.