Advisor: Kerriann Stout, JD

Department of Criminal Justice

Document Type



Pop singer Britney Spears was at the peak of her career when she was forcibly placed under a conservatorship arrangement by her father, Jamie Spears. Conservatorships, also referred to as guardianships in some states, are a legal arrangement in which a judge appoints a person or an organization to care for another adult who is unable to manage themselves or their finances. Conservators are responsible for managing the personal matters and/or estate of a conservatee, and the system is designed to act in the best interest of incapacitated individuals. For decades, conservatorships have been criticized by legal scholars and activists who have called for the urgent need for reform within the legal system. Varying state laws, a lack of federal regulation, and insufficient oversight of conservators are among the concerns that lead to abuse or exploitation under the legal arrangement.

The unique circumstances of Britney Spears’ conservatorship case sparked mainstream attention to conservatorships. The #FreeBritney movement gathered attention and calls to free the pop star from the allegedly abusive arrangement. In response, United States lawmakers from across the political spectrum have shared support for Britney Spears, who has inspired lawmakers to create bipartisan legislation towards conservatorship reform. Each state in the United States has its own conservatorship laws and the federal government does not have nationwide regulations of conservatorships. Based on varying state laws and a lack of federal policies, the purpose of this paper is to analyze the inconsistencies in existing conservatorship laws and determine where these gaps leave room for alleged abuse to happen in the system, as well as the steps being taken to address concerns of reform.