Kevin Federline will finally get to prove his mettle as Mr. Mom: Britney Spears has, for the time being, lost physical custody of her sons.
Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Scott M. Gordon issued an order Monday granting Federline the sole right "to retain physical custody of the minor children." It goes into effect Wednesday at noon, "until further order of the court." (View the custody order.)
Sources confirm to E! News that Federline already has custody of sons Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1.
There was no immediate comment from Spears' camp.
Federline attorney Mark Vincent Kaplan petitioned Gordon for Monday's unscheduled hearing, after Spears was spotted shuttling her two children around Los Angeles over the weekend, less than two weeks after she was busted on charges of driving without a license.
The weekend joyriding follows allegations of Spears drug use from a former bodyguard and a stern ruling by Gordon.
Calling Spears a "habitual, frequent and continuous" user of controlled substances and alcohol, Gordon last month ordered the entertainer to undergo twice-weekly random drug and alcohol testing. Both she and Federline were sent to weekly sessions with a parenting coach as part of the court's "Parenting Without Conflict" course. Their teacher was ordered to report back to Gordon on the ex-couple's progress. (View the order.)
Federline, 29, first sought primary physical custody of his sons in August, shortly after his divorce from Spears was finalized. The "America's Most Hated" rapper said he was seeking custody of the boys over concern for their well-being, claiming the youngsters are in a less than safe environment while under their mother's watch.
Backing up the allegations was former bodyguard Tony Barretto. He told the court he twice witnessed Spears using drugs during his two-month tenure in her employ earlier this year (which came immediately following her stint in rehab). He also claimed she showed "erratic" behavior around the children.
Shortly after he testified, Spears' attorney, Laura Wasser, quit.
But apparently Barretto's account is only echoing in the court of public opinion for now.
"I appreciate [Barretto attorney] Gloria Allred facilitating her client coming forward when he did," Kaplan said in a statement to E! News. "Today's proceedings did not involve his testimony. He may be called as a witness in the future."
"I'm happy to know that her children will now have a safe and more stable environment," Barretto said Monday in response to the ruling. "I believe that Britney loves her children, but I was concerned about some of the behavior which I believe endangered them."
Two weeks ago, the increasingly beleaguered pop star was slapped with two misdemeanor counts by the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, including hit-and-run causing property damage and driving without a valid California license.
The charges were the result of an Aug. 6 accident in a Studio City vitamin store parking lot, in which Spears dinged a silver Mercedes-Benz with her black one, got out to survey the damage and drove off without so much as a note. Or, as it turns out, a driver's license. Unfortunately for Spears, paparazzi were on hand to capture her leaving the scene.
Sources familiar with the case tell E! News the California DMV has Spears listed as an unlicensed driver in the state. (The pop star does hold a valid license through 2009 from her home state of Louisiana, but under Caliornia law, residents must obtain a license within 10 days of entering the state; DMV officials say Spears never completed her application.)
On Friday, before Spears was spotted behind the wheel, Kaplan was back in court for an hourlong closed-door meeting in which he discussed the hit-and-run offense with Gordon. It's unlikely that any one incident was the deciding factor in Spears losing custody; more likely, the order reflected the cumulative buildup—or, more aptly, spiraling down—of Spears' past year.
Her arraignment on the misdemeanor charges has been set for Oct. 10, though as the counts are both misdemeanors, Spears will not be required to appear in court. If convicted, the singer could face up to six months behind bars.
The custody loss strikes another blow to Spears, as she attempts to mount a musical comeback. The 25-year-old singer, whose career has been idling, is scheduled to release a new album in Nov. 13, but she has been plagued by a series of recent offstage missteps. Aside from the legal saga, she flubbed her ballyhooed VMA performance and was subsequently dumped by her management company.
Another custody hearing, meanwhile, is set for Wednesday.