It’s been motherhood under a microscope for Britney Spears, who lost custody of her two children — at least temporarily — on Monday (October 1) when a judge ordered the singer to turn over her children to ex-husband Kevin Federline until further notice, effective Wednesday.
From day one, Spears has faced scorn and scrutiny for her choice of a husband — but strangely, Federline’s image has now improved relative to hers. Even if Britney hasn’t cracked under the pressure, the judge in her custody case isn’t taking any chances when it comes to her young brood, 2-year-old Sean Preston and 1-year-old Jayden James. The couple’s theme song used to be “Chaotic,” and maybe that’s part of the problem.
» April: Britney Spears and Kevin Federline meet, frolic and run away to Europe together. Kevin tells a then-pregnant Shar Jackson, the mother of his first two children, that he’s shooting a commercial overseas. Well, he was only half-lying — he shot “Chaotic.” Shar tells People magazine, “It wasn’t like just breaking up a relationship. It was like breaking up a family.”
» June: Britney pops the question, busts her knee and cancels her tour. The couple announce their engagement (see “It’s True: Britney’s Engaged” ).
» July 20: Shar Jackson gives birth to Kaleb, her second child with Kevin.
» September 18: Britney and Kevin have a surprise marriage ceremony (see “Britney Spears Marries Kevin Federline” ).
» April 12: Britney announces she’s pregnant on her Web site (see “It’s Official: Britney’s Pregnant” ).
» June: A pregnant Britney appears in a video for her single “Someday (I Will Understand).”
» September 14: Sean Preston — Britney and Kevin’s first child together, his third — is born (see “Britney Spears Gives Birth To A Baby Boy” ).
» February 6: Britney is photographed driving with Sean Preston on her lap, not in a car seat. Britney is questioned by the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services. She blames the paparazzi.
» April 1: Sean Preston falls out of his high chair at home. Britney is questioned again by the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services. She blames the nanny.
» May 9: Britney appears on “Late Show With David Letterman” to announce she’s pregnant once again.
» May 18: Britney nearly drops Sean Preston — but not her coffee — in New York. She blames the cobblestones.
» June 16: Britney cries and smacks her gum while defending her parenting techniques to Matt Lauer on “Dateline.” About driving with Sean Preston in her lap? “I did it with my dad. I’d sit on his lap and I drive. We’re country.”
» August 31: Britney and Kevin spoof their image as bad parents when they appear together via satellite on the Video Music Awards.
» September 12: Britney and Kevin’s second child together is born, Jayden James.
» November 6: Britney makes her first official appearance after giving birth, as a surprise guest on “Late Show With David Letterman.”
» November 7: The next day, she files for divorce (see “Britney Spears Files For Divorce — It’s Official” ), asking for sole custody (allowing visitation rights). Kevin finds out via text message. She celebrates by going ice-skating at New York’s Rockefeller Center.
» November 8: Kevin fights back, filing for sole custody (allowing visitation rights; see “Kevin Responds To Britney’s Divorce Filing: He’s Going To Fight” ).
» Mid-November: Spears’ response is apparently to party hard — with Paris and without panties. Cameras catch everything — even her Caesarian scar.
» December 7: Britney explains her behavior on her Web site, saying she got carried away. “Thank God for Victoria’s Secret!” she writes (see “Britney Speaks: ’Thank God For Victoria’s Secret’s New Underwear!’ “ ).
» January 5: The panty-less partying doesn’t stop — nor do Spears’ apologies. “Trust me, I get it,” she writes. “I know I’ve been far from perfect” (see “Britney Tells Fans ’I Get It … I Know I’ve Been Far From Perfect’ “ ). Later that month, the couple agree to a temporary joint-custody arrangement which included a three-days-a-week visitation schedule for Federline.
» February 14: Britney checks into Crossroads Centre, a rehab facility on the Caribbean island of Antigua, only to check out a day later.
» February 16: Britney shaves her head in Sherman Oaks, California (see “Britney Spears Shaves Head, Gets Tattoo” ).
» February 20: Britney checks into Promises Malibu Alcohol and Drug Rehab Treatment Facility in Malibu, California, only to check out less than 24 hours later (see “Britney Spears Leaves Rehab; Federline Requests Emergency Hearing” ).
» February 22: Britney checks back into Promises, as Kevin asks the court for an emergency hearing to help sort out custody issues (see “Britney Back In Rehab Yet Again” ).
» March 20: Britney completes her program at Promises, as Kevin celebrates his 29th birthday (see “Britney Spears Leaves Rehab” ).
» March 29: Britney and Kevin reach a settlement “on all issues of their marriage and child custody,” in which the couple are to split custody 50/50 (see “Britney Spears, Kevin Federline Reach Divorce Settlement” ).
» April 16: Britney fires her manager Larry Rudolph after mocking him in a paparazzi video. “Like, my management totally knew what they were doing when they sent me to rehab,” she tells X-17’s camera guy in a mock Valley Girl voice. Or was it her real voice?
» May 17: Britney fires bodyguard Tony Barretto for failing to pick up a hat. He later files a deposition in her child-custody case claiming to be witness to “nudity, drug use and safety issues” involving her kids.
» May 29: Britney posts her now-infamous “I was so lost” letter (see “Britney Spears Admits ’I Was So Lost’ In Online Letter” ). “Till this day I don’t think it was alcohol or depression,” she writes of her behavior prior to rehab. “I was like a bad kid running around with ADD. I had a manager from a long time ago try to come in and direct me and my life after I got my divorce … I think it is actually normal for a young girl to go out after a huge divorce.”
» June: Britney’s personal publicist resigns.
» July 26: Britney takes the kids out of state (a no-no when it comes to the custody agreement), only to have a tussle with a paparazzo outside the Wynn hotel and casino in Las Vegas. Her bodyguard Cesar Julio Camera is later charged with battery in connection with the incident. Strangely enough, the only post on the singer’s Web site for the month — and ever since — has been an apology to another paparazzo, one she attacked with an umbrella. The singer blamed her actions on a movie role. “I was preparing a character for a possible movie role where the husband doesn’t play his part so they swap places,” she writes.
» July 30: The divorce is finally made official …
» August 2: … but nothing is settled, as Federline’s team starts to serve a series of subpoenas to Spears’ friends and employees, starting with her assistant Alli Sims.
» August 6: Britney has a minor fender-bender when she hits a parked car. Well, minor except for the fact that she doesn’t have a driver’s license in the state of California, and she leaves the scene — while being photographed and videotaped.
» September 9: Britney performs on the VMAs, while Kevin throws a birthday party for the kids.
» September 17: A Los Angeles judge orders Britney to do random drug testing, counseling and parenting classes as he evaluates the couple’s opposing custody wishes (see “Britney Spears Must Undergo Regular Drug Testing, Parenting Classes In Custody Case” ). Kevin is also ordered to take parenting lessons. Britney swaps lawyers.
» September 18: Britney parts company with her management and swaps lawyers once again.
» September 21: Britney is charged with two misdemeanor counts of hit and run causing property damage and driving without a valid license (see “Britney Spears Charged With Two Driving-Related Misdemeanors” ). She continues to drive anyway, and is photographed and videotaped driving with the kids in the car.
» October 1: A Los Angeles judge orders Britney to give the kids to Kevin, by Wednesday, at least temporarily.
For more on Britney’s child-custody setback, check out: