Britney Spears has entered rehab...one more time.
A source confirms to E! Online that the troubled pop princess checked back into the Promises treatment center in Malibu Wednesday evening, just as her estranged husband Kevin Federline was preparing to go to court for an emergency hearing Thursday in the custody dispute over their two children.
The divorcing duo came face-to-face Wednesday evening in a heated encounter at Federline's Tarzana residence that was caught on tape by x17online.com. After Federline refused to let Spears inside, footage shows the pop star turning on two photographers outside the home, flailing her arms and hitting their cameras.
Spears' father Jamie expressed concern about his daughter's health in a telephone interview with Fox News Channel Friday, calling her "a very sick little girl."
"We're just trying to take care of her. Other than that, I have no comment," Papa Spears said.
Federline, who reportedly paid a visit to Spears in rehab on Friday, reportedly played a large part in his ex's decision to resume treatment by agreeing to call off his court action if she checked back into the facility, a source tells E! Online. However, he apparently made it clear that if she failed to complete her stay, he would not hesitate to go back to court.
Once Spears made the decision to return to Promises, Federline's emergency hearing was called off indefinitely, his lawyer said Thursday. Meanwhile, the former couple has reportedly agreed that Federline will care for their sons while she completed the 30-to-45 day program.
"There was no official court date scheduled today and there is no future court date scheduled," Federline's attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan said in a statement issued by his publicist, Michael Sands. "Kevin continues to be a very focused father with his children with hands-on management."
It was unclear exactly what Federline had been hoping to achieve with the emergency hearing, though in light of recent events, one might hazard a guess that it had something to do with his children's well-being.
A source close to Federline told E! Online that he had shared his belief with friends that Spears changed dramatically after she became a mother.
"He feels like Britney never was the same after she had their kids," the source said. "Even after the first baby, she had wild mood swings and her temper would go off at the drop of a hat.
"It got worse after her second pregnancy. Kevin didn't want another baby so soon, not because he didn't want more kids, but because her temper was so unstable when she was pregnant," the source continued. "After she came home from the hospital the second time, she just seemed really unhappy all of the time. He said, 'Nothing made her happy anymore. She was just angry or sad all the time.'"
Experts have said that Spears' recent spate of erratic behavior could have been motivated by postpartum depression, which can set in anytime during the first year after birth and affects up to 80 percent of new mothers.
Though Federline filed for sole custody of 17-month-old Sean Preston and five-month-old Jayden James back in November, an unnamed "friend" told People magazine this week that the would-be rapper was not planning to use his estranged wife's problems to his advantage in their custody dispute.
"It's not about getting the kids away from Britney. He's just worried about making sure he can see them," the pal told the magazine.
"Kevin wanted her to get help so she could be a good mother for their kids and not end up dead."
The pop star's latest rehab attempt marks the third time she has checked into a treatment facility in the last several days.
Last week, Spears briefly checked into Eric Clapton's Crossroads Center in Antigua, then abruptly checked out and returned to L.A., where she underwent a dramatic self-imposed makeunder.
One shaved scalp and two new tattoos later, the 25-year-old entertainer decided to take a second stab at rehab, checking herself into Promises on Monday at the urging of her family.
However, after paparazzi photos of Spears taking a smoking break within the confines of the facility surfaced on the Internet Tuesday, she accused the Promises staff of facilitating the invasion of her privacy and checked out in a huff, a source tells E! Online.
Desperate to get her daughter back into treatment, Spears' mother, Lynne, managed to convince the singer that the facility had not intentionally betrayed her. On Wednesday evening, Spears allowed herself to be driven back to Promises for a second time.
The Malibu treatment center has long been the rehab of choice for celebrities, with a list of famous alumni including Ben Affleck, Charlie Sheen, Diana Ross and Matthew Perry.
A 30-day stay at the facility costs about $48,000, which covers amenities such as gourmet meals, tennis and basketball courts, personal trainers and beauticians along the road to recovery.
For Spears, it's a small price to pay, as she simply can't afford to continue down the path to self-destruction any longer.