Britney Spears will not regain custody of her kids just yet, the judge in the singer’s custody battle ruled Tuesday (October 30).
Spears and her ex-husband, Kevin Federline, had requested changes in the orders pertaining to their current custody arrangement at a hearing on Friday, but the judge delayed ruling at the time. Spears had asked for the orders involving her twice-weekly random drug testing to be changed, a request opposed by Federline’s attorney Mark Vincent Kaplan, and she had requested more time with her two young sons, Sean Preston and Jayden James, but the judge decided that the singer has not made sufficient progress at this time to warrant major changes in the couple’s arrangements.
Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon reviewed a report by the court-appointed parenting coach, which was submitted on October 19 and did not give the singer good marks. While there was nothing she would characterize as “abusive in a traditional sense,” parenting coach Lisa Hacker detailed in the report and in her testimony on Friday her concerns that Spears was neglectful of her two young sons. Spears did not have “child-centered” interactions with her children, nor was she “fully” engaged during her time with them.
“It seems that her choices are dependent more upon what she wants to do at any given time rather than what would be more enjoyable for the children,” Hacker wrote in her report. Additionally, Hacker said, the children did not have a real schedule or routine, but lived in an environment that ranged from “chaotic to almost somber with little communication at all. … During all three of my visits, Ms. Spears rarely engaged with the children in either conversation or play,” she wrote.
However, after Hacker submitted her initial report to the court, she had one more visit with Spears, in which the singer did seem more engaged with her sons, the parenting coach testified on Friday. While that was a good sign, she said it raised questions as to why the other three visits were less positive. “The problem is that unless Ms. Spears realizes the consequences of her behavior and the impact it has on her children, nothing is going to be successful,” she wrote.
It wasn’t just the children’s level of enjoyment that Hacker was concerned with, though — the parenting coach also noted that neither of Spears’ residences were childproof, prompting the judge to order the singer to submit verification of childproofing by Friday. The singer was also ordered not to transport her children unless they are properly secured in child-safety seats.
Spears is to continue to submit to two random drug tests per week, within six hours of notice by phone from the testing facility. Three attempts to reach her over the course of at least one hour without a response will count as a failed test. If, after a period of 60 days, Spears continues to test negative for alcohol and drug use, she’ll only have to submit to one random drug test a week, and her window of being reached by the facility will be expanded to two hours.
Spears’ visitations with her sons — two day visits and one overnight visit a week — will continue to be monitored. Spears and Federline are to submit a schedule of those visitations to the court by Friday, as well as an agreement over how they will split visitations over the upcoming holidays.
Spears and Federline are due back in court November 26 — the same day as her hearing for a misdemeanor count of driving without a valid California driver’s license.