[Source: Court TV]
California Celebrity Divorce Lawyer Christopher C. Melcher explains Britney Spears Conservatorship.
Britney Spears is requesting that a California court remove her father as her conservator.
It’s hard to believe, but for 12 years, Britney has been under this conservatorship of her dad, both financial and personal, meaning he cares for her person, he cares for her cash. But she had a change last September, almost a year ago, when her dad got sick. And the personal conservatorship was transferred to a woman named Jodi Montgomery. And that person has been keeping an eye on Britney for a year, and Britney’s petitioning the court to keep her. She wants her dad to be boosted from that personal conservatorship, not necessarily the financial. He’s not arguing for that just yet.
Jamie jumped in when Britney hit a lot of rough patches and lost custody
of her kids; then preserved the tens of millions of dollars that Britney has.
Under Jamie’s conservatorship
and management, she ended up doing concerts and public appearances, and she even had a resident show in Vegas.
When I saw this move to boost her dad out of the conservatorship of her person, I had think how many years has this been? And what exactly is it like to live under a conservatorship? Both financially and personally.
We turned to Christopher C. Melcher, a California celebrity divorce lawyer, for all the answers.
What exactly does it mean when the term conservatorship is thrown out there?
“There are two different types. There’s a conservator of the estate, which deals with the person’s financial affairs. And then there’s a conservator of the person, which deals with where that person can go, who they can see, where they live. And usually, we only see the one dealing with finances, and it’s pretty unusual to see the second with a conservator of a person,” says top family law attorney Christopher C. Melcher.
Is it also unusual to see something go on for 12 years?
“To get a conservatorship, there has to be a showing that the person is gravely disabled, that they’re unable to manage their own affairs safely. So, the fact that it goes on that long to me is not that unusual. I think what, in this particular case, what’s unusual is that it’s such a high-profile person. And we just don’t think that people in the spotlight like that, major celebrities, would ever need this type of help,” explains celebrity divorce lawyer Christopher C. Melcher. “Under California law, periodic review usually every year is required.”
And when you say conservatorship of the person, just how many restrictions are there? Does it vary from case to case? Does the judge decide what’s in, what’s out?
“The judge will decide. For somebody who’s gravely disabled that cannot even leave the house, they may be put into a care facility that’s locked and they can’t even go outside. And that would be the most extreme case. And then in other cases, probably more like this one, there’s a lot more liberty involved to go to and from places, and the restrictions are most likely more on who can see Britney. But the court does have the power to do some pretty extreme things, but it should only do it sparingly when necessary,” explains Melcher.
Do the proposed conservators ask the court, “Will you approve that I am in control of these things, and these things are up to her?” Does every case sort of get that cherry-picked format?
“Exactly. So, they’re going to go from all the way from the financial decisions, what type of expenditures could be made? What contracts could be entered into? Can the person vote? Can they see anyone they want, or it’s going to be restricted? Can they make phone calls to anyone they want, or is that going to be restricted? Are they going to be able to live in their own home? They also have a say on who their conservator is going to be. So at least they can state some preference about that. But absolutely every case is and should be different, because every individual is different and has needs, some greater than others,” explains celebrity divorce lawyer Christopher C. Melcher.
Is it all public knowledge? Because you can certainly see the argument for and against, that’s very private stuff. But it can also fall into abuse of conservators. Right?
“That’s a great point. Here, the balance has shifted more towards who’s under conservatorship and saying that because the circumstances that would make somebody have a conservator are so personal, that it would do more damage to that person if those details were made public. But then, we don’t know exactly what is going on, what drove those decisions, whether it was needed before but no longer needed, whether the people who were appointed are doing the right job. We can assume that, but we don’t know that until we see the papers, and we can’t see those,” says Melcher.
“For me, certainly there were incidents early on where she demonstrated that she needed help. And this must be hurtful to her to have all of this called into question, even if it’s well-intentioned…She is expressing a preference on who the conservator is, what the terms are. So those seem like healthy decisions that she’s having input on,” says acclaimed family law attorney Christopher C. Melcher.
How often does the person at the core of the case have that kind of input? Britney wants a woman named Jodi Montgomery to continue being her personal conservator. Her father, by all understanding, would continue to be her financial conservator, but how much weight does the person have in having that choice who’s going to oversee them?
“I think it’s tremendous weight. So, she would have the right and most likely has addressed the court, and the court can ask her questions directly about what her preferences are, and are those informed preferences? Whether she wants or needs a conservatorship at all can be determined… It’s that they are so disabled that they cannot safely take care of themselves. It has to be established with clear and convincing evidence, and the court is going to want to address her,” says high net worth family law attorney Christopher C. Melcher.