Britney Spears’ Conservatorship Testimony Explained
[ABC News Prime]
Britney Spears’ Conservatorship Testimony Explained by Top Family Law Attorney Christopher C. Melcher on ABC News Prime.
To help us further unpack what today’s bombshell testimony means for Britney Spears, we’re joined by celebrity divorce lawyer Christopher C. Melcher of Walzer Melcher LLP, which was ranked as one of the best family law firms in California.
Britney said that she wants out of this conservatorship. She even said that she’s been “enslaved.” Can she simply end it like this? “No, she can’t. It’s up to the court to end it. And certainly, the court is going to listen to what she has to say. Today was not the day to decide whether to terminate the conservatorship. But now we know all those unanswered questions that we had before about why hasn’t she asked for this to end earlier. Does she really want this or not? How does she feel about it? That’s all been answered today. It’s really mind-blowing, some of the statements that she made, but they’re not binding on the court. This is a court order that was made against her, and we’ll have to have another hearing and possibly evaluations for the court to determine whether it’s going to continue the conservatorship,” states top family law attorney Christopher C. Melcher.
In your best understanding of this, would you think that a psychiatric evaluation would be mandatory?
“Well, they can’t force it on her. They can ask her to submit to it. That would normally be part of the process to understand what’s really going on with her. If she refuses to submit to it, the court could consider that in denying the conservatorship. To me, these conservatorships are reserved, designed, for the most extreme cases. People who cannot take care of themselves. We’re talking about adults that need protection. And so the half-hour that the court got to hear from Britney would give the court some idea whether she needs that level of protection, or if so, what types of protection. Maybe not such an extreme order that she has right now,” explained celebrity lawyer Christopher C. Melcher.
What stood out to you the most about her testimony today?
“One, that she wanted to speak publicly because she did have the right to ask that it be closed. I was hoping really for her sake that it would be closed because these are the most personal issues for her, her mental health questions, and the conflict with her dad. I understand. We all want to know and her fans want to know what’s really going on, but I was hoping that it would be done in a private setting. So that was one surprise. Another surprise was this IUD birth control device that she said she was forced to have. Now, that could be part of a conservatorship where the person in control would make medical decisions for someone. That was really surprising to hear that there was lithium administered to her that she claimed,” said California family lawyer Christopher C. Melcher.
Britney said that for years, she hasn’t been heard. Some of her fans, this Free Britney movement, have been warning about this. If true, is this the way that conservatorships are supposed to work? “No. We usually don’t see much attention on a conservatorship. It’s usually someone who is developmentally disabled and seriously cannot take care of themselves, and they have a relative appointed and that’s the end of it. And now we’re seeing the whole thing unravel where there’s fights over the fees and the compensation. I think the court’s going to have to manage this differently and maybe change out counsel. I think even if the court believes that the conservatorship is in some way needed to protect Britney, I do think she should have the right to decide who is in control. She doesn’t want her dad and control, and even if her dad has done a fantastic job, her right, her desire should be honored in removing the dad,” stated family law expert Christopher C. Melcher.
As you mentioned earlier, we heard very little today from her father through his lawyer in court as well. Do you think that he’ll be able to maintain control over her finances?
“Well, he might. Today was just a hearing to hear from Britney. There was nothing for the court to decide. So I can understand tactically why Dad wouldn’t have said a whole lot. Now, the one thing, though. When Bessemer Trust was put in place as a co-conservator, along with Jamie, they would certainly go through the finances in great detail because it has a fiduciary duty. And if there was any financial improprieties, we would have heard about it by now. Bessemer Trust would have stepped up and said that. So at least I believe that there’s no financial impropriety that at least Bessemer Trust has uncovered. But it really comes down to one adult controlling another. This is an adult parent controlling an adult child, and that child, Britney, should have a say in this,” explained Melcher.
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