Judge leaves ruling against Britney in effect in child custody dispute
Published: Tuesday, January 15, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 15, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.
LOS ANGELES - A court commissioner decided Monday to keep in effect an order suspending Britney Spears' right to visit her two sons and keeping them in the custody of ex-husband Kevin Federline.
The ruling by Superior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon came after a full day of closed-door testimony on a bizarre situation this month in which police had Spears taken to a hospital after a standoff in her home when she refused to return the children to Federline's bodyguard after a visit.
The commissioner's written order noted that Federline was among the day's witnesses.
Gordon scheduled another hearing for Feb. 19.
Spears went to the courthouse briefly during the afternoon but never went inside, and she left amid a swarm of paparazzi.
The hearing in family law court was held behind closed doors after reporters were ordered to leave.
Court spokesman Allan Parachini said those who testified were two Los Angeles police officers; Paula Strong, the court-appointed monitor who was present for the visit at Spears' home; Lisa Hacker, a parenting coach who has been working with Spears and Federline; and Lonnie Jones, the bodyguard who went to the home to get the children.
Parachini did not reveal what the witnesses said during their testimony. Gordon's order noted that during an officer's testimony there were two exhibits, one described as a photocopy of a police report and the other as a "photocopy of Application for 72-hour Detention for Evaluation and Treatment.'' All exhibits were ordered sealed.
Federline's attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan, told reporters that after hearing all the testimony the commissioner decided to leave his Jan. 4 emergency order in place.
"The word victory is not something Mr. Federline or his counsel would ascribe to this. There is no joy. This is a grave situation for all,'' Kaplan said.
Although Federline thought the ruling was correct, Kaplan said, "his goal, his hope for the future is at some point he will be able to parent the children with the participation of their mother.''
Kaplan would not answer questions.
Neither Spears nor Federline were required to attend, but Federline arrived early, sporting a mohawk-style haircut and dressed in a suit.
Spears didn't arrive until early afternoon.
A sport-utility vehicle took her into a civic center garage, but only her attorneys got out before the vehicle left. It later stopped outside the courthouse, where Spears got out of a passenger seat and took over the driver's seat. It was not clear in the crush of photographers whether she or a companion was at the wheel when it left.
Gordon scheduled Monday's hearing at the same time he issued a Jan. 4 order suspending Spears' monitored visits with son Jayden James, 1, and Sean Preston, 2, and giving full legal and physical custody to Federline, who previously had temporary custody.
Gordon issued that order the day after police were called to Spears' home when she refused to return the children to Federline after a monitored visit and officers had paramedics haul the pop star off to a hospital for undisclosed reasons. She was released after a day and a half at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Police officers monitoring the paparazzi outside the courthouse warned them to stay on the sidewalk, and several were issued citations by bicycle-mounted officers for being in the street.
Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.
Comments are currently unavailable on this article