Court hears Spears’ request for expanded rights

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Lawyers for Britney Spears and Kevin Federline discussed increased visitation with Spears’ extended family Thursday as a judge considered her request for overnight visits with her children.

Superior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon did not immediately rule Thursday on an emergency motion to grant the pop star monitored overnight visits with her children, but he stopped the hearing on for about 45 minutes so that the attorneys could confer.

The hearing was called after Spears attorney Anne Kiley filed an emergency order requesting that Gordon’s current custody order be modified to allow overnight visits with her children. Kiley argued that the visits were critical for Spears to bond with her sons, 2-year-old Sean Preston and 1-year-old Jayden James.

“I do think it is an emergency for them not to have overnights with their mother, which they’ve always had,” Kiley said. “What possible concern can he (Federline) have if there are monitors present?”

Federline’s attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan, told Gordon it was frustrating that Spears’ lawyers would return to court and try to change Gordon’s custody order only a week after it was issued.

“If she could remedy all of those problems ... in one week, that would be a miracle,” he said.

Kiley said that Spears’ own mother, Lynne Spears, could be interested in acting as a monitor for overnight visits, and attorneys for both sides alluded to a warming relationship between Spears and her family.

Although the commissioner did not appear persuaded, he adjourned the hearing so the attorneys could meet and get back to him.

Neither Spears nor Federline appeared in court.

Spears, 25, and Federline, 29, married in October 2004 and divorced in July. Neither appeared in court Thursday.

Kiley told the commissioner that Spears wanted to attend but stayed away because of the huge media crush that surrounded the courthouse before dawn.

“Nobody should have even known about this hearing today,” she said. “Very, very few people in our office even knew we were appearing today.”

Reporters, admitted on a lottery basis, packed the courtroom. Dozens of others who couldn’t get in waited outside with photographers. News media helicopters flew over the courthouse recording the mob scene below.

When he took the children away, Gordon said Spears had engaged in “habitual, frequent and continuous use of controlled substances and alcohol.” He ordered her to undergo random drug and alcohol testing twice a week.

He reiterated Thursday that he worried that the pop star’s troubles could harm the children.

“If a person’s dealing with challenges and those challenges, including substance issues and emotional issues ... some of the behaviors that accompany those challenges can have a devastating impact,” he said.

Gordon also criticized Spears for not complying with previous court orders, repeatedly saying that the current custody order taking her children away resulted from her own choices.

He added, however, that bringing in other family members could be a good thing for the children.

“If, in fact, there are family members who are present and trying to help, that might do some positive things,” he said.

Spears’ private woes have played out publicly as a bevy of photographers and videographers follow her whenever she leaves home.

First she was photographed minus panties at various Hollywood hotspots partying hard with Paris Hilton -- appearing drunk and out-of-control. Then Spears shaved her head as paparazzi captured the moment, beat a car with an umbrella and ended up spending a month in rehab.

Her performance at an MTV Video Music Awards last month was meant to mark her comeback. But it was widely panned, with Spears appearing spaced-out, lethargic and, to some, out of shape. The following week, Spears’ management firm dropped her and her divorce lawyer resigned.

She has also been charged with misdemeanor counts of hit-and-run and driving without a valid license for allegedly crashing into a parked car in August.
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