30 September 2021
Pop music star Britney Spears has successfully asked a California court to remove her father from the conservatorship that controls her life and money.
The court named Spears' father as her conservator in 2008. The legal action came after the singer faced mental health struggles in public and lost custody of her children.
What is a conservatorship?
In California, when a person faces mental struggles, a court can give someone the power to make decisions over money and life choices for them. In California, this situation is called a conservatorship. It is also called a guardianship in other states.
A conservator is the person in charge of legal actions for someone else. The conservator could be a family member, a close friend or a court-appointed professional.
Spears' father, James, was appointed as her conservator. In that position, he has watched over the singer's $50 million and her life.
Why was it established in Spears' case?
In 2007 and 2008, shortly after Spears became a mother, she began to have very public mental struggles. Paparazzi – photographers who take pictures of famous people -- started following Spears everywhere. She seemed unable to deal with it.
She attacked one cameraman's car with an umbrella. She cut her hair off. She lost the right to raise her children. When Spears refused to turn over her children after a visit, she was hospitalized. Within days, the conservatorship was put in place.
For nearly 13 years, few details of the conservatorship were made public. But Spears began seeking changes in the past year and asked for her father's removal. Fans have supported the singer with the #FreeBritney movement.
The singer said in June that, under the conservatorship, she was forced to take drugs. She said she was not permitted to remove a birth control device. And she was forced to perform when she did not want to. The New York Times reported that a listening device was placed in the singer's bedroom.
Spears said this week that she wanted to get married and have another child. But under the conservatorship, she has been denied the chance to do either.
What happened this week?
On Wednesday, a California judge agreed with Spears' request that her father should give up his role as conservator. The decision came several months after Spears asked for her father's removal in court hearings.
The judge, Brenda Penny, called the conservatorship a "toxic environment which requires the suspension of James Spears."
A lawyer for James Spears said, "Everything Mr. Spears has done for Miss Spears has been in her best interest."
About 100 Britney Spears supporters gathered outside the courthouse, saying, "Hey, hey, ho, ho, the conservatorship has got to go!"
Some sang her well-known songs "Toxic" and "Baby One More Time." Others described abusive conservatorships that had affected their own families. Lorin Sisco of Hawaii flew to Los Angeles for the hearing. She told The Associated Press, "I am so excited for what she has to do with the rest of her life."
Since there were no objections to ending the conservatorship, Judge Penny is likely to end it at the next hearing. That is set to take place on November 12.
I'm Ashley Thompson.
Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English from reporting by The Associated Press. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
Words in This Story
conservatorship - n. a legal action in which a judge appoints someone to care for someone who cannot care for himself or herself
custody - n. the legal right to take care of a child
paparazzi - n. photographers who follow famous people to take their pictures and sell them to publications
umbrella - n. a device used for protection from the sun or rain
toxic - adj. poisonous or unpleasant