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Spears gains once-a-week overnight visit with her sons
LOS ANGELES -- Britney Spears won modified visitation rules Thursday that allow her two boys to spend one overnight a week with her, and the pop star's attorney requested her mother become the required court-appointed monitor.
Spears made a surprise appearance in court after Superior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon held a morning hearing on her emergency request to expand visitation but declined to rule. He gave attorneys for Spears and her ex-husband, Kevin Federline, who was recently granted custody, more time to discuss the matter outside court.
Spears was previously allowed monitored visits with the children but no overnight stays. Neither she nor her attorneys spoke to reporters after the closed, afternoon hearing.
During the earlier open hearing, Spears' attorney, Anne Kiley, argued that overnight visits were critical for Spears to bond with her sons, 2-year-old Sean Preston and 1-year-old Jayden James.
"I do think it is an emergency for them not to have overnights with their mother, which they've always had," she told Gordon.
"What possible concern can [Federline] have if there are monitors present?" she asked.
Superior Court spokesman Allan Parachini announced the new visitation order but he could not say who would be the overnight monitor.
Federline, who was not at the hearings, agreed to the modification, his attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan, said outside court.
"He agreed -- didn't have to -- but he agreed that he would allow that additional time ... provided that there were additional assurances in place that made him feel the kids were protected," Kaplan said.
Spears' attorney had asked the court to consider her mother, Lynne Spears, as the monitor.
Kaplan would not say when the first overnight would occur or who the monitor would be, but he said he opposes use of family members as court-appointed monitors because of a conflict of interest.
Spears, 25, and Federline, 29, were married in October 2004 and divorced last July. They both must appear in court Oct. 26 for a status hearing.
In the original Oct. 1 order requiring Spears to relinquish custody, Gordon granted her some visitation but said a monitor must be present and the visits could be cut short if the monitor decided Spears' behavior endangered the children.
When he took the children away, Gordon said Spears had engaged in "habitual, frequent and continuous use of controlled substances and alcohol." He ordered her to undergo random drug and alcohol testing twice a week.
He reiterated Thursday that he worried that the pop star's troubles could harm the children.
He also criticized Spears for not complying with previous court orders, repeatedly saying that the current custody order taking her children away resulted from her own choices.
Gordon told Kiley he had not received any of Spears' drug test results directly from the lab, as he had ordered, although he had an attorney's declaration that she has passed them.
Federline's attorney, Kaplan, said it was frustrating that Spears' lawyers would try to change the Oct. 1 custody order so soon after it was issued.
"If she could remedy all of those problems ... in one week, that would be a miracle," he said.
When Spears arrived at the courthouse dressed in blue jeans, a long black sweater and wearing aviator sunglasses, she said "I'm doing good." She sipped from a Coca-Cola can as she approached the courtroom. An attorney took it from her and placed it on a bench as she entered.
Spears played nervously with her jeans pocket as she stood to be sworn in.
The commissioner allowed Spears to keep her dark sunglasses on, telling her, "I understand you have a medical condition." The condition was not disclosed.
Reporters were then asked to leave and the hearing continued behind closed doors.
She spent about an hour in the courtroom, then drove off in a white Mercedes-Benz swarmed by news media at a stop light. She escaped only after sheriff's deputies ran from the courthouse to aid her.
Associated Press writer Raquel Maria Dillon contributed to this report.