After a protracted legal struggle, pop icon Britney Spears, 40, was released from her father's reportedly abusive conservatorship in September 2021. She gained a lot of social media support, with both famous people and regular internet users coming together to form the #FreeBritney movement.
On Friday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation to update the state's probate conservatorship system, which provides individuals with legal guardianship. Additionally, AB 1663 makes it simpler to terminate a conservatorship. After pop diva Britney Spears' conservatorship lawsuit made news, other states implemented legislation relating to supported decision-making that will connect California with those other jurisdictions.
In place of probate conservatorship, the new bill, which was written by Democratic Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, puts supported decision-making into law. This would enable persons with intellectual, developmental, dementia, and other disabilities who require assistance to take care of themselves or their finances to speak with dependable supporters before making important decisions. The Act will make sure they may do so without endangering their right to self-determination.
In addition, the measure mandates that alternatives to conservatorship be mentioned in a petition for conservatorship consideration. The information regarding the rights that conservatees still have will be made available by the courts. If both the conservatee and conservator agree, judges will have the authority to end a conservatorship without a hearing.
“Everyone deserves to have control over the choices they make in their daily lives, including individuals with disabilities. AB 1663 prioritizes that right by emphasizing less-restrictive alternatives to probate conservatorships, specifically Supported Decision-Making. I am grateful that the Governor signed this important legislation today,” said Assemblymember Brian Maienschein (D-San Diego).
The reform is being pushed for with increasing clamour by advocacy groups, who have brought Britney Spears's nearly 14-year conservatorship as an example.
Probate conservatorships in California have been criticised by organisations such as Disability Voices United, Disability Rights California, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, and Free Britney L.A. for being "overused" and "misused." In accordance with the latter, individuals who are deemed incapable of making certain life decisions for themselves may be placed under legal conservatorships, in which case a court-appointed conservator is given control over their finances and other important aspects of their lives, sometimes without their consent.
When Britney Spears' fame was at its peak in 2008 and her father requested the conservatorship, she was a 26-year-old mother of two sons. “Conservatorships should be rare, and the last resort. The default should be that people with disabilities retain their rights and get support when they need it,” said Judy Mark, president of Disability Voices United, a Southern California advocacy group.
After a string of mental breakdowns, Britney shaved her head, attacked a paparazzi car with an umbrella, and got into a standoff with the police. Everything that Britney Spears' father did, including her career, financial, and personal life decisions, was under his total supervision. The singer of "Baby One More Time" urged the judge to order her father's removal from the conservatorship in 2020. The celebrity said that she was forced to act against her will, drugged, and forced to get an intrauterine contraceptive device.
Jamie Spears had refuted the allegations, but the court took Jamie Spears' side and lifted the conservatorship.