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LELA: Britney Spears has made headlines recently not for her music but for her erratic behavior, and today those actions may have cost the pop star custody of her children after a Los Angeles judge ordered Spears to hand over her two young children to ex-husband Kevin Federline. Chip Yost is live in the newsroom with the latest on the continuing meltdown of Britney Spears. Chip.
CHIP YOST: Lela, a family law specialist we spoke to says what happened to Britney Spears today is a big deal. He described it as an emergency type of hearing that was likely called because the judge learned something that made him feel like Britney Spears’ children were in immediate danger. The specialist also says it’s something that happens on a regular basis, to normal people.
Whatever you think of Britney Spears you have to feel for her two kids: two-year old Sean Preston and one-year old Jaden James. This video shot yesterday is what appears to be a typical day for the two kids with photographers documenting their every move. But as strange as Spears’ custody may seem, certified family law specialist Marshall W. Waller says it’s not that unusual.
Marshall W. Waller: Most people her age that have these problem, they have the same problems and they are just not litigated at the same level. They’re usually litigated on a much more subdued level because they can’t afford it.
CHIP YOST: Waller, who is the brother of KTLA’s Marta Waller, also says it’s not unusual for ex-employees to come forward, just like Spears’ former bodyguard, Tony Barretto, did two weeks ago when he filed papers with the court saying he had seen misconduct by Spears in front of her kids. What is unusual is that he held a press conference today to react to the news that Spears’ kids had been taken from her.
TONY BARRETTO: I believe that Brittney loves her children, but I was concerned about some of the behavior in which I believe endangered them.
CHIP YOST: His attorney wouldn’t answer questions about whether Barretto has sold his story to any tabloids. Still, a judge thought something was wrong with Spears’ parenting, finding at a hearing last month, about a week after this widely-panned BMA performance, that Spears was a habitual, frequent and continuous user of controlled substances and alcohol. Couple that with today’s court action and Marshall W. Waller says Spears better shape up if she wants to win back custody of her kids.
MR. WALLER: She’s a hot topic. Everybody follows her around. I mean, she can’t cross the street without somebody seeing her, and so this is somebody who really needs to keep her nose clean and she’s not doing it.
CHIP YOST: The photographers are waiting, as they always are, as Britney Spears leaves a Greek restaurant in Malibu recently with her two boys. But two-year old Sean Preston and one-year old Jaden James won’t be staying with mom anymore. A superior court commissioner awarded temporary custody of the kids to their dad, Britney’s ex, Kevin Federline.
MR. WALLER: It’s a huge deal; it’s a very big deal. It’s a very big deal to, you know, literally wake up on Monday morning and have a judge take your children away from you. And it doesn’t get any bigger than that.
CHIP YOST: The judge didn’t explain why he did what he did, but the reasons have been documented in the tabloids: her life is a train wreck. The picture of her driving with her baby in her lap without a seatbelt. The car crashes she’s been in. She doesn’t even have a California driver’s license. The judge has called Spears a habitual, frequent and continuous user of drugs and alcohol. He’s ordered her to undergo random testing, counseling and parent coaching, and there are reports she did none of those things. Legal experts say the judge must have just decided enough was enough.
MR. WALLER: Here’s a guy who’s gone out on a limb and he’s trying to work with her, and here he is and I can easily see her saying to her in court something along the lines of, here are the rules that you’re going to have to adhere to, and if you don’t do it, you’re going to lose your kids.
LELA: Chip, so we know what’s happening in the short-term. What about the long-term custody issue about these kids?
CHIP YOST: Well, this obviously doesn’t help, but the specialist we spoke to says that the laws are written to try to keep parents with their kids, and he says these situations are fluid, so if she improves here behavior and comes back and proves to the court that she’s learning her lesson and trying to be a better parent, she could regain some of the custody rights she lost today.
LELA: Okay, so we’ll just have to wait and see. Thanks for that report, Chip Yost.