Attorney: Federline just wants what’s best for kids
Britney Spears’ less-famous ex-husband is not after money, his lawyer says
By Mike Celizic
Updated: 11:18 a.m. CT Sept 21, 2007
Kevin Federline’s fight for primary custody of the two children he had with Britney Spears isn’t about money but about the welfare of the kids, his divorce attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan, told TODAY in an exclusive interview Friday.
“I want to put to rest these allegations we’ve heard that he wants more money, and that’s why he’s doing this,” Kaplan told TODAY co-host Meredith Vieira. “There is no request before the court for any modification of any support ordered in this case.”
On Monday, a court in Los Angeles came down hard on Spears, finding that she is a habitual and frequent user of controlled substances and alcohol. Judge Scott M. Gordon ordered the pop singer to undergo random drug testing twice a week and spend eight hours a week with a parenting coach.
Vieira asked Kaplan whether the ruling represents a victory for Federline, who is seeking primary custody of the two toddlers, Sean Preston and Jayden James.
“I don’t think Kevin looks at this as a victory, or is getting any pleasure out of it,” Kaplan said. “I think what Kevin is looking for is something to stabilize the environment the kids are in. And I think that is what the judge did.
“I think the judge said, ‘I’m not sure what’s going on. There are some very serious allegations here. And I am going to make orders that stabilize the environment until we can have a custody evaluation completed,’ ” Kaplan said.
Gordon did not change the 50-50 custody split Federline and Spears share, but did order both to abstain from using alcohol or controlled substances within 12 hours of being with their children. The two must undergo co-parenting counseling together, complete a “Parenting Without Conflict” program and refrain from using corporal punishment to discipline the children.
“What does that say in terms of how the court considers his parenting?” Vieira asked.
“The courses that they were told to take are standard courses in any contested custody case in California,” Kaplan replied, saying that ordering both parents to take such courses is normal procedure in such cases.
Federline has been reported in the media to be requesting a 70-30 custody split, but Kaplan said that’s not true, because courts don’t use such numbers. “He wants primary custody,” Kaplan said. “However that plays out numerically is how it plays out.”
K-Fed and Spears married in October 2004. They filed for divorce last November and Federline was initially said to be seeking $70 million as a settlement. The divorce was finalized in July under terms that have not been disclosed.
While the celebrity couple continues to duke it out over the children, they’ve been rich fodder for the tabloids. Spears in particular has been awash in controversy, from shaving her head to going partying without her underwear to her inept performance at the MTV Video Music Awards.
Federline, too, has frequently been photographed while out on the town.
“At what point do you as a lawyer say to your client, ‘You know what? At the very best, it doesn’t look good. You’re fighting for your kids. Maybe you should go home to them instead of going out clubbing,’ ” Vieira asked Kaplan.
Kaplan said that can be an issue when either his client or Spears has physical custody of the children. But, he said, it shouldn’t matter when they don’t.
“I think they are entitled to enjoy their lives, as long as when they are out publicly they are doing it with moderation and there is no concern about the alcohol that is part of the order,” Kaplan said.