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Britney Spears’ conservatorship is an “unusual case,” lawyer says

▶ Watch Video: Britney Spears makes plea to end her conservatorship

Britney Spears broke her silence on the conservatorship she has been living under since 2008 at a hearing on Wednesday. Among the pop star’s explosive claims are that she was stopped from removing a birth control device, not allowed to marry and forced to take strong drugs when she was unwilling to perform.

In an interview with CBSN on Thursday, lawyer Seth Berenzweig described Spears’ conservatorship case as “unusual.”

“Over the personal life, it is extremely rare for something like that to apply to a grown adult,” the sports, media and entertainment lawyer said. “Britney Spears is about to turn 40. This has been a conservatorship that has been in effect for about 13 years. So, it is very unusual in this kind of circumstance for this kind of a court-appointed process to apply.”

A conservatorship is essentially a court-appointed guardianship. Berenzweig explained that it applies “in two realms.” “A conservatorship over the person, and also a conservatorship over that person’s financial life.”

The latter, he said, “usually is used for someone who has a permanent mental disability or someone who is elderly.”

“I found the most stunning part of her testimony to relate to not only how much of her personal life has been micromanaged, but even the extent to which there has been medical intrusions into her life,” he said.

Spears told a judge Wednesday that she wants to “be able to get married and have a baby,” but was told she could not.

“I have an IUD inside me so I won’t get pregnant but this so-called team won’t let me go to the doctor to take it out,” she said.

Spears asked the judge to end her conservatorship, claiming her father — who is co-conservator or her estate alongside an independent financial group, Bessemer Trust — has “complete control” over her life and choices. 

“I shouldn’t be in a conservatorship if I can work and provide money and work for myself and pay other people. It makes no sense,” she said. 

Berenzweig agreed.

“From a financial situation, it really is stunning to me that her father even has any remote role in this. There’s no indication that he has any more business savvy or common sense than she does,” he said.

He said he wouldn’t be surprised if the conservatorship is terminated later this year — and predicts Spears’ situation could shed light on the nature of some conservatorships.

“If she can back up most of what she’s saying, I think that she’s going to have a likelihood of success and she may be free, certainly from the individual aspect, if not from the financial aspect,” Berenzweig said.

“This will be, really, a learning step for people to see how this kind of a process can be used, unfortunately, in a potentially abusive manner.”

Britney’s comments at the hearing Wednesday followed her court-appointed lawyer’s attempts to remove her father from the conservatorship. Last summer, her attorney told the court Britney “strongly opposed” her father’s control of her estate and wanted him removed. But the judge denied the request, instead, appointing Bessemer Trust to serve as a co-conservator to manage her estate alongside her father.

Jamie’s legal team has argued the conservatorship has taken Britney’s estate from being in debt to an evaluation of $60 million and has said his only motivation has been his “unconditional love for his daughter and a fierce desire to protect her from those trying to take advantage of her.”

After a short recess Wednesday, Vivian Thoreen, Jamie’s attorney, made a brief statement on behalf of her client, who was present at the hearing. “He is sorry to see his daughter suffering and in so much pain,” Thoreen said Wednesday. “Mr. Spears loves his daughter and misses her very much.”

Contributing: Zoe Christen Jones and Justin Carissimo


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