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What Britney Spears’ Case Tells Us About Conservatorship Laws

Signs in support of Britney Spears are seen during a #FreeBritney protest outside of the Tri Star Sports & Entertainment Group offices in West Hollywood, California.
Signs in support of Britney Spears are seen during a #FreeBritney protest outside of the Tri Star Sports & Entertainment Group offices in West Hollywood, California.

You’d expect fans of famous pop stars to spend much of their time online posting about songs they love to music or speculating about when a new album might drop. But some fans of pop superstar Britney Spears remain focused on the legal arrangement that shapes her life: conservatorship.

Conservatorship, or guardianship in some states, means that a court determines that an adult is so ill, either physically or mentally, that it must appoint another person to manage that person’s affairs. Sometimes the court appoints a family member, and sometimes it appoints an attorney. In Spears’ case, her father, Jamie Spears, is her guardian — though she has attempted to change that.

While it’s certainly necessary in some cases, in others, a conservatorship can be harmful. A person deemed in need of this tool can’t hire representation to argue for its removal in court. And it creates a potential situation in which abuse can occur.

— Doomscrolling Reminder Lady (@karenkho) November 12, 2020

Thanks to the public nature of Spears’ case, many are starting to wonder if this system needs some reform.

What are the pros and cons of conservatorships and guardianships? And what could a better system look like?

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