With Britney Spears publicly in the legal process of trying to end a conservatorship with her father, Stephanie Coker, barrister at 5SAH Chambers, explains conservatorships, whether they can be terminated and the UK equivalent of a deputyship. She said:
‘As some may know, Britney Spears has been under a conservatorship since 2008 following concerns over her mental health. It is not known what her mental health challenges are or the extent to which they impact on her capacity. Indeed, these issues would require expert evidence from a relevant medical professional, which would assist the court. However, what is known is that recently Britney has spoken out calling for an end to her conservatorship.
‘Conservatorships are court-appointed individuals or organisations, who are appointed to care for someone who is unable to care for themselves or manage their finances. The individual subject to a conservatorship is known as a ‘conservatee’, and those appointed are known as ‘conservators’. Conservatorships are established by a court order and are arguably very extreme as they can deprive an individual of their liberty to make decisions for themselves, which raises issues over the person’s autonomy.
‘In order to end a conservatorship, the conservatee will need to formally file a petition to terminate the order. Within the petition, the conservatee would need to set out their case explaining why they assert that a conservatorship is no longer required including why and how the grounds on which the order was initially granted no longer exist. The conservatee may also need to undergo an evaluation and the report of this would be filed at court.
‘The UK equivalent of a conservatorship is a Deputyship. A Deputyship refers to a person who is appointed by the Court of Protection to become legally responsible for someone who lacks mental capacity to care for and make decisions for themselves. Deputyships can also be made where a Power of Attorney is not in place. Like conservatorships, this is a particularly complicated area of law and legal advice should be sought if a person has concerns over their Deputyship or if they wish to have the Deputyship discharged.’
Stephanie Coker is a barrister at 5SAH Chambers, she practices exclusively in Family Law and is a qualified mediator.