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How Does Britney Spears' Conservatorship Come Into Play When It Comes To Custody Of Her Kids?

As the pop star's private life has once again been thrust into the spotlight, questions have emerged about her father and her teenage boys, of whom Kevin Federline has much more custody than previously reported.

By Gina Tron
New Doc Explores The Life Of Britney Spears

A new documentary detailing Britney Spears' controversial conservatorship begs a potentially heartbreaking question: Has the legal decision impacted her right to time with her two children?

"Framing Britney" explores how Spears, 39, became a pop culture object at the expense of her personhood, and how throughout her career she was over scrutinized in ways that male pop stars rarely, if ever, have been. The film details how the public delighted in her 2007 public mental health crisis, which resulted in a temporary loss of custody of her kids that same year. It also resulted in her being put under the conservatorship of her father in 2008. By then, her former husband Kevin Federline was granted sole custody of their two sons, Jayden James and Sean Preston.

The original reason that Spears lost custody of her children was never revealed to the public, though Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams, a Washington law office, theorized in a 2020 blog that she lost sole custody because of the media circus around her 2007 crisis. At the time, she was routinely swarmed by paparazzi and famously documented shaving her head — which at the time was reported in tabloids as a symptom of her instability — and at one point in early 2007, seen attacking a paparazzi’s vehicle with an umbrella. 

Britney Spears Sons G

For a while, the split couple shared custody as their legal battle dragged on. By 2019, Spears was granted 30 percent custody of her boys, but it was reported that she was fighting for a 50/50 split again, Fox News reported in 2019.

Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams theorized that the conservatorship — in which a so-called protector is appointed by a judge to manage the financial affairs and personhood of another due to apparent physical or psychological limitations — could have affected her custodial rights with her kids. Furthermore, they asserted that the public perception of her led to the conservatorship in the first place.

“There’s an important distinction between her being under a conservatorship and not getting a favorable custody decision,” they wrote. “Simply put, she was granted reduced visitation rights not because she is under conservatorship but because she had highly publicized personal troubles, which put her under conservatorship in the first place.”

Mark Vincent Kaplan, the powerhouse Los Angeles divorce lawyer who represents Federline, told Oxygen.com that “the conservatorship being in place was one of the conditions of the custody early on, and so far, that adds a layer of structure that hasn’t been changed in quite a while, which is consistent in the best interest of the kids.”

However, Kaplan said that as far as he can see, nothing in the conservatorship “has caused an issue on custodial arrangements.”

Kaplan went on to say that since the 2019 70/30 custody ruling, Spears and Federline have come to a “de facto” arrangement, which has resulted in his client having vastly more custody over the children.

“Right now, Kevin has more of a 90/10," he said. “It seems to be working out great for the kids and both sides are okay with it."

Both the agent and lawyer representing Spears did not immediately return Oxygen.com’s request for comment. Other attempts to reach the Spears camp have not been successful.

Kaplan specified that Federline said he believes that Jodi Montgomery, who has been a care manager for Spears over her finances, is doing a “good job.” Jamie Spears relinquished his powers over the conservatorship temporarily to Montgomery in 2019, citing health problems. 

Britney Spears has also apparently been receptive to Montgomery's guidance. She is fighting to have Montgomery and a financial institution be placed in charge of her finances, and not her father, her lawyer Samuel D. Ingham III stated in a 2020 filing, US Weekly reported. Meanwhile, Federline filed an emergency protective order against Jamie Spears in 2019, claiming that he was physically abusive to one of the boys.

Kaplan told Oxygen.com that the former couple’s sons, who are now 14 and 15, are “doing great.” He said that as they continue to get older, their wishes will have more possible influence over custody issues.

“[The courts] don’t let the kids decide but they at least hear from them,” he told Oxygen.com.

Meanwhile, Spears’ current boyfriend, Sam Asghari, whom she has been dating since 2016, told People in response to the new documentary: "I have always wanted nothing but the best for my better half, and will continue to support her following her dreams and creating the future she wants and deserves. I am thankful for all of the love and support she is receiving from her fans all over the world, and I am looking forward to a normal, amazing future together."

Then, just hours later, the 27-year-old shared the following message on his Instagram Story: "Now it's important for people to understand that I have zero respect for someone trying to control our relationship and constantly throwing obstacles our way."

Even if Spears wanted to marry Asghari, the conservatorship would prevent her from doing so, Forbes reported in 2019. Her makeup artist theorized to US Magazine in 2019 that if it weren't for the conservatorship, the couple would probably be married and with a child of their own at this point.

"In my opinion, Jamie is a total dick," Asghari, who was born in Iran, went on to state. "I won't be going into details because I've always respected our privacy but at the same time, I didn't come to this country to not be able to express my opinion and freedom.”

“Framing Britney,” a documentary created by the New York Times, is available on FX and Hulu.

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