When Britney Spears testified this past June, she told a judge that her conservators had prevented her from getting married and having a baby.
Fast-forward nearly three months, and not only has the pop star endured dramatic changes nearing the possible termination of her conservatorship, but she is also newly engaged to her longtime boyfriend, actor Sam Asghari.
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However, with restrictions that come with a conservatorship, will Spears be able to make her own choice to get married? Legal experts say that all depends on whether she is let out of her conservatorship. But as of today, Spears cannot, say, run off to Vegas and tie the knot.
Under a conservatorship, the conservatee does not have the right to enter into any sort of agreement on their own. So, while accepting a proposal is one thing, marriage is another. There are no formal rights with an engagement, but a marriage license would need to be approved by her conservators.
"Technically, she can't sign off on the marriage license while she is under the conservatorship," says attorney Sarah Wentz, a partner at Fox Rothschild, who specializes in conservatorships and estates, but has never worked with Spears. "The conservator may likely invalidate the marriage, if they had not signed off on it."
"Typically a conservator would go to the court and get an order directing them to sign on her behalf, rather than making that decision on their own," Wentz explains. Alluding to recent changes in Spears' case, the attorney adds, "Maybe the point is moot if they terminate the conservatorship, but I think it is too soon to say."
News of Spears' engagement came just days after her father, Jamie Spears, filed a petition to terminate her conservatorship, signaling the beginning of the end of the pop star's long, drawn-out legal battle that has lasted 13 years. (Spears was first placed under conservatorship in 2008 when her father requested the court-ordered arrangement; he has been overseeing her estate since then.)
While Spears' father has requested to end the conservatorship, the singer's legal team has never asked the court to terminate it, and her attorney, Mathew Rosengart, has only filed for her father to be removed and suspended. However, regardless of her father's motivations, Rosengart praised the move as a "massive legal victory" for the star.
Spears' next hearing is set for Sept. 29. Still, it remains to be seen what the court will determine - and when that decision may come.
If the judge terminates the conservatorship, Spears should be free to get married without any outside permission. But in June, during her first public testimony, the star told Judge Brenda Penny that she wants to get married and have a baby, but claimed she has not been allowed to do so.
"I would like to progressively move forward and I want to have the real deal, I want to be able to get married and have a baby. I was told right now in the conservatorship, I'm not able to get married or have a baby," Spears testified. "I have a IUD inside of myself right now so I don't get pregnant. I wanted to take the IUD out so I could start trying to have another baby. But this so-called team won't let me go to the doctor to take it out because they don't want me to have children - any more children. So basically, this conservatorship is doing me way more harm than good."
Spears and Asghari, announced their engagement on social media over the weekend.
"I can't fucking believe it!!!!!!" the singer wrote on Instagram this past Sunday, with a slew of ring and heart emojis adorning her joyful caption on a video post of her showing off her new engagement ring. On Monday, she posted again to celebrate her news, writing that the proposal was "way overdue" and "definitely worth the wait." Sharing her love for Asghari, Spears wrote, "I'm so blessed it's insane."
The couple also called out those who have been calling for a prenuptial agreement, in light of their engagement news. Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, for one, commented on Spears' Instagram announcement, bluntly writing: "Make him sign a prenup."
Asghari clapped back at the critics, posting laughing emojis onto his Instagram Stories with the caption: "Thank you everyone who is concerned about the prenup! Of course we're getting iron clad prenup to protect my jeep and shoe collection incase she dumps me one day."
While Asghari might be poking fun, a prenuptial agreement could actually be a serious legality under a conservatorship, experts say.
"That's an interesting issue. Technically, she doesn't have the right to enter into an agreement at all," Wentz says. "Unless the conservatorship was terminated, I would say the conservator would need to sign a prenuptial agreement on her behalf, and there is no way they don't petition the court for approval.
Although he has petitioned to terminate the conservatorship, Spears' father, Jamie, who is in charge of controling all of her finances, has been accused by the singer's attorney of "dissipating" his daughter's fortune and trying to extort her. In the scenario where Jamie remained conservator of Spears' estate, though doubtful, he likely would be eager to protect her assets from any partner in marriage, as conservator of her estate.
"A conservator would need to ask for [a prenuptial agreement] in order to protect Britney," Wentz adds. "I also think that if she got married without one, they might invalidate the marriage for lack of capacity and then negotiate a prenup, in order to allow the marriage to go forward."
Spears and Asghari have been together since 2016, and he has said they met on the set of her music video for "Slumber Party."
Throughout Spears' legal battle, Asghari has been a vocal supporter of his girlfriend - now fiancé - posting about the #FreeBritney movement on his social media.
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