Federline lawyer: Spears' hearing 'significant'

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Britney Spears' effort to regain visitation rights with her two small children is back on the court docket for what an attorney described Sunday as "the most significant hearing in the case so far."

Police and emergency medical technicians who were summoned to her home Jan. 3 in a standoff involving her refusal to return the boys to her ex-husband, Kevin Federline, will testify Monday, probably behind closed doors, his lawyer said.

"I don't know if she will be there," Mark Vincent Kaplan told The Associated Press, but he suggested she would have to appear in person if she wants to press her request to see her children. "You can't phone this one in."

If Spears comes to court, Kaplan said she would be expected to testify. "She will have the opportunity to persuade the court that she can have some visitation under monitored conditions," he said.

Phone and e-mail messages requesting comment from Spears' attorneys Sunday afternoon were not immediately returned.

Kaplan said he knew it was only a temporary measure when he obtained emergency court orders two weeks ago granting sole physical and legal custody to Federline.

"These are very, very draconian orders," Kaplan said. "Because of that the court wanted to have a hearing to give her and her attorneys the opportunity to refute some of the declarations."

"No judge likes making orders terminating a person's involvement with their kids," Kaplan said.



Meanwhile, police were preparing for a media frenzy in the downtown civic center if Spears appears, issuing warnings Sunday that vehicle and pedestrian violations would lead to citations.

Kaplan said that if Spears comes to court, he would like to cross-examine her on the events of Jan. 3.

Police were called by a court appointed monitor when Spears refused to hand over Jayden James, 1, and Sean Preston, 2, to Federline's security guard and locked herself in a room with one of the boys.

Spears was taken to a hospital in an ambulance chased by photographers and was placed on an involuntary hold on grounds she was a danger to herself or others. Spears left Cedars-Sinai Medical Center a day and half later.

The day after the incident, Kaplan presented papers to Commissioner Scott Gordon who awarded sole legal and physical custody of the boys to Federline and suspended Spears' visitation rights.

Kaplan said if visitation is restored, it would be under more restrictions than those originally imposed by Gordon.

One expert in family law agreed that the hearing provides Spears her only hope of resuming visits with her children before a custody trial scheduled for April.

"Usually, when someone has the threat of losing their children, they'll do anything to get their children back," said Lynn Soodik, who predicted visitation rights could be restored if Spears appears and offers an explanation.

"This is not a punishment for her," Soodik said. "It's what's in the best interest of the children. The judge has to carefully weigh their safety versus not seeing their mother. It's drastic to have no contact with their mother."

Soodik said Gordon could order monitored visitation in a location away from Spears' home "in some kind of setting where the judge can assure that she wouldn't be able to lock the kids in a room with her."
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