Britney Spears and ex-husband Kevin Federline have settled their long-running custody dispute over their two sons, Sean Preston and Jayden James. According to E! News, Spears agreed on Thursday to give Federline sole legal and physical custody of the two boys, while she will retain visitation rights.
Federline's attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan, said the agreement was signed by all parties. "The case has been settled," Kaplan told E! "The court still has to approve it." Spears and Federline are due in court Friday morning (July 18), which was to be the final hearing in the case before it was scheduled to go to trial next month. Earlier in the week, Kaplan had brushed off rumors that a settlement might be in the works, but some court watchers had speculated that might be the case when an earlier court date on Tuesday was postponed until Friday.
"As of this evening there is a fully executed deal memo. ... All the issues that would have been addressed at trial have been settled," Kaplan said Thursday. "Can't speak to the exact terms of the deal. Orders in place ... will stay in place." Though Federline had been seeking full custody of the children, Kaplan said the final deal is not exactly the scenario his client had in mind.
"Kevin was not [out] to get custody. Kevin's goal was to set up some kind of template so the mother of his children can co-parent," Kaplan explained. "He said, 'I need to have Britney to be involved in the co-parenting of the kids, but I need there to be a structure.' " Regardless of how the final deal worked out, Kaplan said Federline was "absolutely delighted."
OK! magazine quoted Kaplan as saying that Spears' visitation rights could "increase over time." The singer has only been allowed monitored visits with her children since late February, following her multiple hospitalizations. She was recently granted the right to have one overnight visit a week as well.
Kaplan told E! that the resolution to the nearly two-year battle was unanticipated and cuts off the battle "at a point that is good for these children. Custody is always modifiable. If there is a final order, it means there is nothing to try."
According to E!, the Federline camp credited Spears' father, Jamie — who was appointed the co-conservator of his daughter's estate in February — for helping to get the troubled 26-year-old singer back on the right path. The conservatorship is up for review at the end of July, at which point a court commissioner will decide whether to make the arrangement permanent. Kaplan said that there is language in the custody agreement that anticipates a possible end to the conservatorship, but he couldn't discuss what those terms are. "Nobody can predict what the future will bring, but ... to the extent possible, I think we have really anticipated how to proceed," he said.