#FreeBritney: A Breakdown and Analysis of Britney Spear’s Conservatorship By Nia Bedard

Photo Credit: Forbes 2021

#FreeBritney. I’m sure that if you have been on the internet within the past six months you have seen or heard of the #FreeBritney movement. However, for those who are unaware here is the breakdown of the movement. Pop sensation, icon, and legend, Britney Spears has been in an ongoing legal battle with her father who became her conservator in 2008 and remained until a judge removed him as Britney’s conservator in September 2021. Spears’ father, Jamie Spears, made all the legal, financial, and daily life choices for his daughter from when she was 27 until she was 39. 

Getting into her career and life, prior to her father’s conservatorship Britney Spears first became a pop sensation in 1998 with her smash hit, “Baby One More Time.” Spears was just sixteen years old at the time and from then till 2003 she proved that she was going to be much more than a one hit wonder. For the first five years of her career, she churned out iconic hit after hit including “Oops….I Did It Again,” “Stronger,” and “Toxic,” and by 2004 she became one of the best-selling female artists of her generation. However, Spears stopped making music at the end of 2004. She then fell in love with former backup dancer, Kevin Federline, proposed, married, and had two sons with him. Sadly in November of 2006, Spears then filed for divorce from Federline citing irreconcilable differences, and once the divorce was finalized Spears would be able to get back to performing.

While her divorce with Federline was being finalized, Spears was constantly chased down by paparazzi with her every move and action watched and twisted by the media. As the custody case between Federline and Spears regarding their children was heating up, the media began focusing more on the way she lived her life rather than her music. With Spears beginning to lose control of the situation she began to fear the loss of her children, fear the constant eye of the media, and fear that her parents would take everything she has worked so hard for. This fear is heavily reflected in the song-writing and music videos of her last self-produced album, Blackout. An album many critics praise for both of those aspects, especially the concept of  “Piece of Me” and the animated video for “Break the Ice.” How ironic that her most critically praised album comes right before her breakdown, which would forever change not just her career but her life as well. 

In January 2007 police officers were called to Spears’ home. She had locked herself and her sons in a room of her house and refused to give them to Federline’s bodyguard as a part of their shared custody agreement. After getting Spears and her children out of the room they were taken to the hospital where Federline and his lawyer arrived as well as Spears’ father, Jamie. At this time Spears had not spoken to her father since her mother divorced him in 2002. Shortly after this incident, Federline was granted full custody of their children. Spears returned to the hospital, and Jamie Spears petitioned the California Probate Court to grant him conservatorship of his daughter. Britney Spears was placed under temporary conservatorship of her father on February 1, 2008, and from that day on Britney Spears’ ability to make legal, financial, and daily life choices has been taken away from her. Jamie Spears would then proceed to treat his own daughter as a machine whose sole purpose was to make him money. Britney had lost all control.

During the beginning of the conservator trial Spears was deemed as having dementia at twenty-seven years old and not given the traditional five days notice so that she could find a lawyer to represent her. Adam Streisand represented Spears and argued that an independent person should be her conservator. He was then asked to leave the courtroom since Spears was not deemed able for council and conservatee’s are not able to pick their own attorneys. It is believed that Sam Bigham, Britney’s appointed lawyer, did not fight as hard against her father, Jamie Spears, being her conservator. In order to bring in an independent party for the conservatorship, financial advisor Andrew Wallet, managed the financial aspects of the conservatorship. Spears and Wallet then appointed Britney Spears’ former manager whom Britney had fired, Larry Rudolph, back as her manager. Louise M. Taylor became her business manager and the representative for the Spears family. Spears was also subjugated to regular checkups regarding her mental state and in these checkups Dr. J. Edward Spar stated she had lacked the mental capacity to become independent despite resuming work 2 months into the conservatorship. Dr. Spar was interviewed about his involvement in Spears’ conservatorship and refused to comment on the situation that he helped perpetuate for over a decade.

From 2008 to 2019, Spears then proceeded to be worked constantly by her conservators for their own profit. In September of 2008 Britney was able to regain joint custody of her children but the time she spent with them was subject to the ruling and approval of her father. Despite this she appeared to be recovering, she was writing a new album, working on a tell-all documentary For the Record, and was involved with a crowd that was selected and filtered by her father. Following an interview done by People Magazine with her ex-husband Britney asked her friend and cinematographer, Pedro Castro to read a personal letter she wrote regarding her improved mental state and how Kevin left her and her kids. In this letter she opens up about feeling trapped in her conservatorship, how she has no rights to her music, how she has none of her money, and how her conservator is profiting off of her. Castro then copied the letter but was fired after the original copy was discovered by her father. In 2009 Spears would try to eliminate conservatorship but was threatened by her father with the removal of her children and with the help of Sam Lutfi, Adnan Ghalib, and Jenny Eliscu, she signed documents asking for a new lawyer to attempt to terminate her father’s conservatorship, however it was still ruled by a judge that she did not have mental capacity to appoint her own lawyer.

Jamie Spears then requested that the conservatorship be made permanent. With permanent conservatorship, he would be able to make purchases with his daughter’s money, control her money, and dictate her work schedule without her consent. Following this change, the nine-month-long, forty-million-dollar Circus tour started shortly after and there were many claims from people behind the scenes saying that the Circus tour was bad for Spears mentally. Spears was being overworked and exhausted for nine months in order to make a profit for her conservator. A few months into the Circus tour Spears started dating Jason Traywick who was incredibly concerned for her and heavily disliked the restrictions placed on her by her father. He was able to be a voice for Spears about her father’s drinking problems and how badly she wanted out of the conservatorship of her father. In 2011 the two became engaged and she requested that he be made her sole conservator, however, a judge ruled that Traywick and her father be made co-conservators rather than her father being removed, still keeping her father involved in Spears’ career. Spears was then made a judge on X-Factor in 2012, which led to significant damage to her mental health. Medical professionals reluctantly approved the decision to let her judge after persuasion from her management, and due to her mental decline, Traywick’s presence on set became mandatory. This mental decline during her time on X-Factor is credited due to her medication dosages fluctuating based on how much she worked due to her father’s input. Jamie Spears eventually went back to being his daughter’s sole conservator once Spears and Traywick broke up. Once again Britney was alone and being used for her father’s profit.

After X-Factor Spears relocated to Las Vegas and from 2013 to 2018 Spears started a Las Vegas residency show entitled “Piece of Me” that culminated in a world tour, however very little is known about this time period. This is due to the conservatorship who kept her circle incredibly small and the only time she could be candid and honest was with her audience during her shows. During this time she worked non-stop and made approximately 190 million dollars of which she barely received 30% and the rest went to her conservators. Spears then announced a new residency called “Domination” in 2019, but later canceled citing family reasons. Following this announcement Spears then disappeared from the public and the internet for several months. It was later discovered that she was placed in a mental hospital and ordered to take drugs by her father against her will. After this news was announced fans began to question why she was even in a conservatorship if she was “okay”. This would later develop into the #FreeBritney movement. Spears was eventually released from the mental hospital and issued a public statement saying that she was okay. A few months after Spears was released a restraining order was filed by Federline after Jamie Spears assaulted one of his and Spears’ sons. With the #FreeBritney movement on the rise, the conservatorship was being called into question by the public, however, Spears was using the fact that his daughter hadn’t worked since 2018 to continue the conservatorship despite the fact that the conservatorship was the reason “Domination” was canceled.

This struggle culminated in a court meeting on June 23, 2021, regarding the conservatorship and Jamie Spears’ role. However, this meeting was different because this was the first time Britney Spears addressed the court directly about her conservatorship and what she has been put through for the last 13 years. Despite Spears’ passionate statement addressing the court and her father, her request to have him removed as her conservator was denied. Spears’ entire statement is available on YouTube and has been transcribed in a Variety news article, which will be linked at the end of the article. 

Despite her claim to have her father removed as her conservator denied, her statement made an incredible impact in fulfilling her wish. In July, Larry Rudolph resigned as her manager and stated that while he was hired by the conservatorship he wasn’t a part of it. Sam Bingham, Spears’ court-appointed attorney, resigned from a position that made him nearly 3 million dollars. Bingham did begin to take steps towards fulfilling Spear’s requests before he resigned but has made no other comment about the situation in which he profited for years because he refused to do his job. Spears was appointed a new attorney, Mathew Rosengart, who immediately began filing for Jamie Spears to be removed as his daughter’s conservator. On September 7, 2021, Jamie Spears asked to be removed from his role as conservator and asked that the conservatorship be terminated. 

As of November 13th, Britney Spears is now free. She is no longer involved in any sort of conservatorship and is free from her father’s oppressive reign of terror over her career and life. Britney is now free to make all the decisions considering her career, her finances, and most importantly her life. Britney has control. Britney is now free.


Brittany Spear’s Conservatorship

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