Britney Spears broke her silence with emotional testimony on Wednesday, detailing the “abusive” circumstances of her 13-year-long conservatorship, claiming that she has not been allowed to remove her IUD or get married, while forcing her into unwanted professional endeavors.
Spears; conservatorship dates back to 2008, around the time of her very public mental health struggles. After losing custody of her two children to former husband Kevin Federline and then refusing to turn over her boys after a visit, Spears was hospitalized and placed on a 5150 psychiatric hold, beginning the conservatorship under her father, Jamie Spears.
The pop star is actually under two conservatorships: a conservatorship over her estate, which focuses on financial matters, and a conservatorship over her person, which grants the conservator control over her medical and personal decisions.
Spears’ testimony was the first time she publicly expressed that she would like to end the conservatorship and remove her father from it without an evaluation.
“I just want my life back,” Spears said at the hearing. “And it’s been 13 years. And it’s enough. It’s been a long time since I’ve owned my money. And it’s my wish and my dream for all of this to end without being tested.”
Though Spears has had a very public battle with mental health in the past, legal experts say that her situation does not qualify under the conditions that would require a conservator.
“Conservatorships are for people who are unable to speak for themselves: The infirm, elderly or cognitively impaired,” Neama Rahmani, a Los Angeles-based trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor, told TheWrap. “Maybe they’ve had dementia, suffered from a stroke or are severely mentally ill or mentally disabled. Those are the types of people for whom a conservatorship is designed.”
Given that Spears’ situation does not fall under these categories, Rahmani says it’s “almost certain” that the conservatorship will end, unless there is compelling evidence in her medical records that indicate that she’s unable to take care of herself and perform daily activities, such as eating or going to the restroom.
Leslie Salzman, a clinical professor of law at the Cardozo School of Law and expert on elder law, emphasizes Spears’ competence in an interview with NPR.
“It seems quite unusual that you would have a person who was capable of going out and doing all the kinds of professional activities [Spears] was doing, who is found to be totally incapable of managing either her personal or property affairs,” Salzman said.
She went on to explain that the terms of Spears’ conservatorship are uniquely limiting.
“(A conservatorship) is supposed to be a narrowly tailored order, and the court is always supposed to use the least restrictive alternative,” Salzman said.
Similarly, Sarah J. Wentz, a legal expert and partner at the firm Fox Rothschild, told TheWrap that it’s “extremely unusual” for a person like Spears to be under a personal conservatorship, especially one as restrictive as this. However, she says that the chances of Spears getting out of the conservatorship without — per Spears’ request — an evaluation are “unlikely.”
“I think that the court will feel that after a 13-year period of continuously feeling like this is needed, they’re going to need some pretty strong evidence to sh
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