Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Kevin Keeps Custody, Britney Gets Visitation

Kevin Federline retains custody of his two sons for now, but Britney Spears gets monitored visitation, a judge ordered Wednesday.

The temporary arrangement was decided at a three-hour closed-door court session attended by Federline, who was wearing an eye patch because, his lawyer says, "His eye was sore." No further explanation was given. Spears did not attend.

The new custody arrangement stays in effect until the next hearing, scheduled for Oct. 26 – and both Federline and Spears will be required to attend, says court rep Allan Parachini.

"Britney's access to her kids works out to about every other day," says Parachini. The visits will not necessarily occur back-to-back, he adds.

At the beginning of the hearing, Federline stood, was sworn in by the court, and stated his name – apparently to give testimony. Spectators then were excused from the courtroom, and the session proceeded in private.

Kevin's Attorney Reacts to Decision
After the hearing, Federline, flanked by two bodyguards, walked out without making comment.

But his attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan, said, "We felt (the custody) orders were justified and Kevin was pleased with the orders in place." He added the children "are good and right now they're in (Federline's) custody."

Spears's attorney declined to comment.

On Monday, Commissioner Scott Gordon ruled that Spears should be temporarily stripped of custody of sons Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1, "until further notice of the court."

Kaplan told PEOPLE earlier that based on the judge's Sept. 17 rulings, "The court had significant evidence that these obligations were not complied with. And we're not talking about Kevin."

The pop star's attorney, Sorrell Trope, explained that Spears, who had been sharing 50-50 custody of her sons, temporarily lost custody because she couldn't provide proof of having a valid California driver's license at Monday's hearing. She was also accused of missing a drug test, "but there's no evidence that she actually failed a test," said Trope.

A close friend of Spears, Sam Lufti, told PEOPLE this week that the singer remains "very optimistic" that she'll get her sons back as she completes the judge's checklist.

On Tuesday, Spears was granted an interim California driver's license. She had been driving illegally without one, according agency spokesperson Jan Mendoza.


While leaving the courtroom, Spears' attorney Sorrell Trope told reporters, "I'm not going to say anything. It's totally inappropriate from my perspective to make comments on an active case without my client's expressed consent, and she is not here."

Meanwhile, Federline's lawyer Mark Kaplan told the press, “The orders were justified and [Kevin]’s pleased with the orders in place."


Federline's attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan, said after Thursday's closed hearing that Spears, who was not present, will be allowed to visit with her boys pursuant to the court's new order, which included new behavioral guidelines stemming from Monday's hearing. Upon turning custody over to Federline, Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Scott M. Gordon ruled that Spears' erratic behavior was putting her children at risk.

K-Fed, tricked out in an eyepatch to protect a sore peeper from the sun's glare, was smiling as he exited the Los Angeles courthouse today.

"As far as whether we won, or as far as Kevin's happy," Kaplan said, "I'll say we felt that the orders were justified and he was pleased with the orders that were in place."

Asked how the kids were doing, Kaplan said he didn't feel it was appropriate to elaborate but that the children are "good."


"The court did not reinstate the pre-existing custody order," Kevin's attorney Mark Vincent Kaplan said after exiting the Los Angeles County Superior Court. He did, however, allow "petitioner (Britney) some visitation." The changes in the arrangement will be in the order that the Court will release either tonight or tomorrow morning. The order of today, as in any custody order, is subject to modification as are all custody orders in California. "Britney was not present today," Kaplan said. "Kevin and his counsel felt that the order was justified and we're pleased."


We've learned on Monday, Commissioner Gordon said he would not order the parties to court, but made it clear that it would be a good idea for them to show. Sources say Britney's lawyer, Sorrell Trope, asked Britney to show but she wouldn't. Kevin showed up, along with his lawyer, Mark Vincent Kaplan. It was the first appearance in court by either one. Britney spent some of her afternoon at a Shell gas station in the San Fernando Valley.

Britney's lawyer argued that the ruling on Monday was unfair and he asked to reinstate the 50/50 custody arrangement. The judge declined to do it.

The next hearings are set for October 26 and November 26. Britney and K-Fed must be there for the October 26.


As for Kevin's attorney Mark Vincent Kaplan, he said after the hearing, "Kevin wants to maintain the custody that he has as long as he can."


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