Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Today's custody battle hearing has begun

Hearing Held in Next Round of Britney Custody Battle
By Ken Lee

Attorneys for Britney Spears and Kevin Federline – as well as Federline himself, sporting an eyepatch – arrived in a Los Angeles courtroom Wednesday for the next round in the ex-couple's bitter custody battle over their two children.

"If the judge accepts Spears's explanation today as to why his orders weren't fulfilled," says veteran family attorney Neal Raymond Hersh, "there's a chance that 50-50 custody will be reinstated – but it's a longshot."

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."

Federline's attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan, told PEOPLE 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 lost temporary 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.

One lingering question is whether Spears will be granted any form of visitation rights with her children.

"At the moment, Britney has zero visitation rights," explains Los Angeles-based family attorney Scott Weston. "But depending on how convincing Trope is, the judge may allow Britney to see the children with a court-appointed monitor for a few hours a couple times a week, without overnight privileges."


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