Britney, K-Fed's Custody Cliffhanger

by Sarah Hall
Fri, 26 Oct 2007 05:01:50 PM PDT
Britney Spears and Kevin Federline's hugely anticipated courtroom showdown ended with...

Tune in next week to find out. 

In court together for the first time since their custody battle touched off, the former Chaotic couple were grilled by Court Commissioner Scott M. Gordon during a nearly three-hour, closed-door session. But the commissioner kept everyone in suspense, refusing to issue any immediate ruling.

Also on hand for questioning was the parenting coach appointed to monitor Spears. The coach, who sources say clashed with Spears, submitted a written report to Gordon earlier in the week.

"The court took the matter under submission," said Federline's attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan. "We expect a written ruling Monday or Tuesday."

A visibly distraught Spears declined to comment afterward. One of her lawyers, Sorrell Trope, said he was "very pleased" and "something has changed, but I can't say what."

Kaplan also didn't talk specifics, but he did strike an optimistic note. "I don't know if they were 'very pleased,' " he said of his adversaries, "but I do believe the court will modify the custody order."

Federline currently has full custody of sons Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1, though Spears is allowed to visit, provided the court-appointed monitor is present at all times. Spears' attorneys argued that the embattled pop star should regain shared custody of the boys.

The duo arrived separately and, after being sworn in, traded quick glances at each other before the courtroom was cleared out and the proceedings closed.

Three times during the session, a sobbing Spears exited to go to the bathroom. Asked by an Extra reporter how she was doing during one of the excursions, Spears shouted, "Eat it, lick it, snort it, f--k it!" She then walked back into the courtroom bawling.

Spears, 25, pulled up to Los Angeles Superior Court just before 1:30 p.m. in her white Mercedes, with a festive array of pumpkins displayed on her dashboard. She dressed for the occasion in a dark dress, cowboy boots and dark glasses.

As the singer and sidekick Alli Sims wheeled into the loading dock, it took deputies several minutes to force the throngs of paparazzi swarming her car to disperse.

Less than five minutes after she made her arrival, Federline, 29, showed up in a black BMW SUV and was also surrounded by the waiting paparazzi. The would-be rapper was dressed in a dapper gray suit and, like Spears, shaded his eyes with sunglasses.

Friday's face-off wasn't the first time Spears and Federline reconnected in recent days. The exes attended joint parenting classes, as mandated by Gordon, three times this week.

During a morning session, without either of the principals present, Spears' lawyer Thomas Dunlap successfully argued that the singer's pending deposition in the custody case should not be videotaped for posterity, given the risk of "undue embarrassment" for his client if the material were leaked onto the Internet.

Gordon ruled in Dunlap's favor, after initially pointing out that much of the publicity the legal eagle hopes to avoid for Spears is contradicted by her behavior in public.

Kaplan had argued that the session should be videotaped because of the importance of Spears' demeanor while giving the deposition.

Words alone, he said, do not always tell the full story when it comes to Spears.

"Yes could be no, and green could be black," Kaplan said.

Though Gordon ultimately ruled against Kaplan, he did grant the attorney's request to have two experts present during the deposition to evaluate Spears' testimony. (View the minute order.)

No date has been set for the deposition to take place, much to Kaplan's apparent frustration.

"I ask the court to please order [Spears] to show for deposition," Kaplan said. "We've been trying for almost one year."

He said he had asked Spears' legal team "on four occasions" to schedule the deposition, which could stretch over several days.

Deposing Spears represents a key part of Kaplan's strategy to gather sufficient evidence to convince the court that Federline should retain custody of the ex-couple's sons.

He has already completed depositions of several Spears associates, including her former manager Larry Rudolph, close pal Sims and a onetime bodyguard.