Just when Britney Spears might have thought her visitation rights with her two sons were at least straightened out for a little while, the singer was dealt another blow Thursday morning (November 8), when Kevin Federline called yet another emergency hearing in the couple's custody battle, claiming she hadn't been following the court's orders regarding her random drug testing. Luckily for Spears, the judge thought a compromise was in order.
Neither Federline nor Spears attended the hearing at Los Angeles Superior Court, perhaps because of the early hour -- Spears' lawyer Anne Kiley told the court that the singer had a hard time responding to morning calls for drug tests, which she'd been getting as early as 8 a.m. Kiley told the judge that he just didn't understand that pop stars have different schedules, but Federline's attorney Mark Vincent Kaplan countered that family court shouldn't give special privileges to Spears just because she's a pop star. Kaplan told the court that Spears had not been responding within the hour when called for those drug tests, and therefore had not followed the court order. Of the 14 tests the singer had been required to take, she had only responded to calls for six of them.
Court Commissioner Scott Gordon said that time wasn't the issue — her lost and changed phone numbers were. "There needs to be one number that the testing facility calls that she responds to," he said. Gordon did say, however, that Spears can change phones, as long as everyone involved is notified.
Spears is to submit to two random drug tests per week, within six hours of notice by phone from the testing facility. Spears would have one hour to respond to those calls, according to the judge's last ruling. Three attempts to reach her over the course of that hour without a response constituted a failed test, which meant the singer had failed eight tests so far due to non-response.
Kaplan wanted Spears' visitation schedule, as well as permission to drive the children around, to be modified to reflect her failures to respond, while Kiley argued that Spears should be given more time to respond. She suggested that since there was a six-hour window to submit to the test, that the six hours be expanded to include response time, so that Spears would have six hours to complete both obligations, to respond and submit to the test.
In his last ruling, Gordon had said he wouldn't expand Spears' window to respond until after at least a period of 60 days, if she continued to test negative for alcohol and drug use, at which point she'd have two hours to respond. But after hearing Kaplan's and Kiley's arguments, Gordon agreed a change could be made in the singer's response time requirement, but that change would have to be decided upon by the lawyers, not the court. Gordon gave Kaplan and Kiley until noon on Tuesday to come up with their own compromise, which can be determined out of court. Kaplan told reporters outside the courthouse that he was willing to come up with something "reasonable."
The next hearing is scheduled for November 26, and at it will be discussed whether Spears would be permitted to drive the children. Gordon said his previous order still stands: that the singer is not to transport her children unless they are properly secured in child-safety seats.
According to the court, neither Spears nor Federline is required to attend that hearing, which is the same day Spears is due in court for a misdemeanor count of driving without a valid California driver's license.
[This story was originally published at 2:48 p.m. ET on 11.08.2007]