Britney Spears is 39 years old today. She certainly deserves to celebrate her birthday, but as long as her boyfriend Sam Asghari doesn’t treat her for the day, she should save all proceeds for some celebration.
That’ s because she is under the guardianship of her father Jamie Spears, as she has been since 2008. This legally binding constraint on the pop star leaves her without control over her finances, business or even personal matters.
Whereas a #FreeBritney movement demands that she, well, be freed from such binding rules, it is clear that she prefers someone to have control over her financial decisions – just not her father. This summer her lawyer Samuel D. Ingham III on her behalf in court to remove Jamie from the conservatory in favor of licensed professional conservator Jodi Montgomery. (Jamie resigned temporarily in September 2019, but Britney wanted Montgomery to remain in office permanently instead). Judge Brenda Penny of the Los Angeles Superior Court rejected Britney’s motion on November 10. Judge Penny did not rule out future petitions to remove or suspend Jamie, so this father-daughter litigation may be far from over.
After Britney had initially become a megastar in the late 1990s, she experienced a very public collapse in the mid-2000s. During this time, she had a wedding in Vegas that was quickly annulled; she married Kevin Federline and had two children; shaved her head in front of paparazzi; attacked a paparazzo’s car with an umbrella; experienced child protection authorities visited her little sons; checked in and out of rehab and was twice committed to a mental institution. All this built up until the takeover of the conservatory in 2008.
A conservatory is usually intended for adults who are unable to take care of themselves due to brain injury or mental illness, and a court then assigns another person to do so for them. Britney Spears’ guardianship leaves her father in charge of both her finances and her daily life. In theory, she must ask him for permission to do almost anything.
The exact details of her conservatory remain largely private, but a 2016 New York Times article claimed that at that time Jamie was at least “supervising her most daily purchases, from a drink at Starbucks to a song on iTunes” and reported them “in court documents as part of a plan to secure the vast fortune she has earned but ultimately does not control. Jamie also supervised his daughter’s psychiatric treatment and approved her visitors.
The New York Times also reported that Jamie earned an annual salary of $130,000 and took home 1.5 percent of the gross income of Spears’ Las Vegas residence. But this residence, along with a brief role as a judge at The X Factor and merchandising stores, currently leaves Britney with an estate that is reportedly worth $59 million.
There are rumors, however, that driving a car and who she is allowed to visit in the first place are monitored. After some material was circulated through her social media accounts, fans have even speculated about whether her Internet use is restricted. The only detail that is known for sure, however, is that with all the millions of dollars she has earned, none of it is under her control.