Today was supposed to be the day. The #FreeBritney supporters were at the Los Angeles courthouse waving signs and chanting. The media was ready. The court was ready.
But apparently, the princess of pop was not ready. Spears failed to show today for the court hearing that would once again address her finances, her personal life, and her mental health.
Spears’ finances have been under conservatorship for 12 years, ever since her public antics and rehab sessions after her split from husband Kevin Federline led to questions about the state of her mental health. Although the details about the conservatorship have never been made public, basically, her father and an attorney have been managing her assets and personal life for her—duties which include restricting her visitors and communicating with her doctors about her treatment.
And it’s a lot to manage. According to Business Insider, Spears had a net worth of $59 million in 2018, $1.1 million of that spent on legal and conservator fees. Her father, Jaime Spears, stepped down from his appointed duties in September, citing “personal health reasons.” The judge then appointed California licensed professional fiduciary Jodi Montgomery to care for Spears’ security, visitors and medical treatment, among other things. Montgomery will serve in that capacity until August 22, 2020, at which time the conservatorship will be up for extension once again.
But Spears didn’t show up to court today, and the judge granted her father’s request to make all details of the conservatorship private, which only served to get the #FreeBritney fans further riled up.
#FreeBritney fans feel that the singer’s conservatorship is a means to control her. To date, more than 226,000 fans have sign the #FreeBritney petition; the movement has pages all across social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and more. The group believes that Spears is secretly asking for help via her social media accounts.
What’s a conservatorship? In California, a conservatorship, or guardianship, is performed by a professional fiduciary. Usually appointed by a court, professional fiduciaries manage matters for clients including daily care, housing and medical needs, and also offer financial management services ranging from basic bill paying to estate and investment management. Although the services are generally used to care for seniors and people with disabilities, conservatorships are also granted in cases when people are unable to make decisions for themselves.
Don’t think conservators can run wild, however. They are periodically checked on by the courts that appointed them to ensure the conservatee (in this case, Spears) is being properly cared for.
Conservatees have an ace up their sleeves, however: According to the California Handbook for Conservators, they can legally request to end the conservatorship themselves.
So, in reality, Britney can help to free herself. All she has to do is show up.