Imagine that every single thing you buy, every career move you make and even your right to care for your children must be reviewed and overseen by another body.
This is a tightly controlled living situation that, eight years after it began,
has highlighted how the pop icon is still living under a conservatorship, or guardianship, which is approved by a court when it agrees a person cannot take care of themselves.
Her father Jamie Spears and a lawyer are the conservators in charge of her life. They have been since 2008 when her family moved to take control of her affairs following her highly publicised breakdown and alcohol and substance abuse.
In 2009, they were made permanent conservators and Spears returned to her tour and resumed her successful career as an entertainer. It has been said that the conservatorship appears to have been a major factor in enabling her to regain her health and to getting her career back on track.
Spear’s father has control of her well-being and jointly oversees her finances with co-conservator the lawyer Andrew M. Wallet. The reality of this situation is that every single purchase made by Spears, now 34, is recorded in court documents and, according to this arrangement, she cannot make major decisions about her personal life or finances without their approval.
Spears’s status and progress are monitored by a court investigator, who reports on her progress once every other year.
Conservatorships are frequently used for the elderly or mentally or physically disabled.
Since Spear\'s conservatorship began, some restrictions have been lifted and she has apparently made good progress in terms of her health and stability. She recently announced plans to extend a two-year residency in Las Vegas and she has joint custody of her two children.
Spears has not challenged her conservatorship and there is no date on when it will end.
Under California law, a conservatorship is put enacted when a judge appoints a person or organisation to take responsibility for an adult on the basis that they cannot care for themselves or manage their finances.
The person placed under their care is the conservatee. Conservators are often placed in charge of the elderly, infirm or those with serious physical or mental disabilities. They are monitored by the court through investigators and examiners.
There are two types of conservator: conservator of the estate and conservator of the person. One person can fill both roles.
The conservator of the estate would manage the conservatee\'s property and finances, collect income, pay debts and invest their assets accordingly. Their first job is to identify and register all of the conservatee’s assets. Every single financial transaction - even as minor as buying a coffee - must be recorded.
They are also tasked with collecting all of their income and managing their daily finances, such as paying household bills. The court can issue an allowance of money for the conservatee, which they can spend how they wish.
The conservator of the person would oversee daily personal needs of the conservatee.
This can include deciding where they live, ensuring they have access to things they enjoy and making medical decisions.