The Britney Spears media circus continues, as the judge in the troubled singer's child-custody trial has reportedly ordered her to undergo random drug and alcohol testing this week. Spears, 25, also received orders to hire a professional "parenting coach" and to see a therapist at least once a week.
The singer and her ex-husband, rapper/dancer Kevin Federline, are to enroll in the court's Parenting Without Conflict class in the next few days. The couple still has a 50/50 custody-sharing arrangement for their sons, Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1. But Federline's legal team reportedly has been aggressively seeking a 70/30 arrangement in his favor.
Judge Scott Gordon of the Los Angeles Superior Court stated in court documents, "Based on the evidence presented, the court finds that there is a habitual, frequent, and continuous use of controlled substances and alcohol." As for the testing, Judge Gordon ordered that it "be conducted twice per week on random dates and times."
On top of that, Spears reportedly has to meet with the parenting coach for eight hours a week, in order to monitor her parenting abilities. Judge Gordon ordered Spears and Federline to be "restrained from making derogatory remarks about the other party and the other party's family or significant other" whenever the children are present, and he also prohibited them from disciplining the children with "corporal punishment."
The court orders follow closed-door court hearings during which Federline's side brought a "secret" witness to court to testify against Spears' parenting skills. The witness turned out to be Spears' former bodyguard, Tony Barretto, who had filed a sealed statement with the court alleging "nudity, drug use, and safety issues post-rehab" in the singer's behavior. Barretto never got to testify, however.
In the meantime, Spears' lawyer, Laura Wasser, quit the case on Monday. Reports have stated that Wasser found the singer to be a "problem client". Spears replaced Wasser with Melvin Goldsman, but People.com reports that she is already considering firing him.
Barretto's attorney, Gloria Allred, told the New York Daily News that the singer had gotten off easy. "It is definitely a wake-up call if she wants to maintain custody of the children," she said. "The court should have said that until she demonstrates that she is not 'a habitual, frequent, and continuous' user of controlled substances and alcohol, then she should not have custody."
One might say that the past year hasn't been stellar for Britney Spears. After filing for divorce from Federline, she launched into a downward spiral of bizarre public behavior that culminated in a stint at a rehab center. Her recent attempt at a career comeback backfired with a universally panned performance on the MTV Video Music Awards; this past Monday, her management company, The Firm, dropped her. On the bright side, her new single, "Gimme More," has shot up to number 16 on Billboard's Hot 100 in less than three weeks of release.
Let's hope that Britney and K-Fed can learn to settle down, put their differences aside, and start focusing on what's best for their children. For one divorce lawyer's advice on how to deal with custody issues, click here.
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