Britney Spears may be engaged to Jason Trawick, but unless her father approves of the two getting married, the couple's marriage won't be legal.
That's because Britney Spears has been in a conservatorship since 2008, meaning she is legally bound to ask her father's permission for everything from giving depositions to buying a house... to getting married to her new fiancé.
Britney Spears, 30, has been free to try and get out from under the conservatorship for over a year, but has yet to do so. So if father Jamie Spears says no to the wedding, will Britney Spears try to get married anyway?
Jamie Spears and attorney Andrew Wallet became the heads of Spears' conservatorship back in February 2008, when the pop singer had a meltdown that almost ended her career and did, essentially, end her independence.
The judge in her case determined that Spears was not competent to testify on her own behalf, a controversial ruling that still shocks fans of the chart-topping singer.
Because it is designed, ideally, to protect people who are seriously ill, said Jennie Eliscu, who wrote Spears' Rolling Stone cover story in 2008.
We're talking about people who are non compos mentis, according to the lawyers I consulted. Or they're in a vegetative state. Or they're just so old that they can't take care of themselves anymore... [The conservatorship is] making less and less sense as time goes on.
By the judge's ruling, Britney Spears' father is the one who makes all financial, medical and career decisions on her behalf. This arrangement holds despite the singer being free enough to continue making millions for the family name.
'It's not like you are marrying an adult'
What does that mean for Britney Spears' wedding? It means that Jason Trawick is legally bound to ask her father for permission to marry her, and that Jamie Spears has every legal right to say no.
And if Trawick decides to elope with Spears and get married anyhow, mirroring a sequence from Spears' Criminal music video, the marriage would be recognize in any court of law.
If he [father Jamie Spears] doesn't consent, then her marriage would not be legal, family law expert Lisa Helfend Meyer told E! News. Spears' father has yet to comment on her engagement, and the two are only recently back on good terms.
[Conservatorships are] very restrictive, Meyer said. It's not like you are marrying an adult.
Why Hasn't Britney Fought For Her Rights?
So how does a 30-year-old woman, and an international pop star at that, live such a restricted lifestyle, especially if she's planning to get married? The bigger question may be why Spears herself hasn't challenged the ruling before now.
It's possible that the singer has had no desire to get her affairs back under her own control until now.
It may also be that Britney Spears' conservatorship is up for review at the start of 2012, and that the pop star is trying to establish an adult life as much as she can in preparation for the hearing.
Spears' conservatorship should be ending in January, with a court hearing on the matter slated for Jan. 19, 2012.
The Conservatorship Nightmare
There's still a possibility, however, that Jamie Spears could win yet more years ruling his daughter Britney's life. The hearing is technically just about sealing court records and setting down an allowance of fees.
In which case, the married woman's legal rights would remain somewhere between that of property and that of a young child.
According to Meyer, if the conservatorship remains and there's a prenuptial agreement, fiancé Jason Trawick wouldn't be signing it with Britney but with his future father-in-law.
The singer may have to ask permission for Jamie Spears to book a venue, buy a wedding dress, and have the money to go on honeymoon.
And if Britney Spears has a third divorce, splitting from Jason Trawick, Jamie Spears would have to agree to whatever financial settlement they agree upon in order for it to be legally valid.
Now that Britney Spears has her life back on track, Jamie Spears' conservatorship should by all rights be over. But if the courts decide to keep her under her father's thumb, Spears' wedded bliss could very well be over before it begins.