Britney Spears fails to regain custody of children

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LOS ANGELES, Oct 4 (Reuters) A judge refused to restore Britney Spears' custody of her two young children, ordering them to remain in the sole care of her ex-husband but granting the pop star monitored-visitation rights.

Spears' ex-husband, Kevin Federline, who had shared custody of their two sons, Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1, with the pop singer, was first granted sole custody of the boys in an order issued on Monday.

After a three-hour, closed-door hearing yesterday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon extended that order for the time being but granted Spears visitation subject to certain conditions, Federline's lawyer, Mark Vincent Kaplan, told reporters afterward.

He did not elaborate on those conditions, saying they would be outlined in a court order to be made public later.

Court spokesman Allan Parachini said Spears' visitation had to be monitored and would likely take place every other day.

Gordon set another hearing for Oct. 26 to review the situation and possibly revise his order. Both Federline and Spears are required to attend.

Federline, wearing sunglasses over an eye patch, attended Wednesday's proceedings, slipping into and out of the courthouse without speaking to reporters. Spears was not present, and her lawyer declined comment.

Spears' custody battle caps a tumultuous year in the singer's personal life as she struggles to rejuvenate her recording career.

Since her split from Federline last November, Spears has drawn a steady stream of headlines for erratic behavior that has included club-hopping without panties, shaving her head bald, raging at a car with an umbrella and checking into and out of rehab.

Last month, her highly anticipated comeback appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards was widely panned as an embarrassing flop, though her new single, ''Gimme More,'' has climbed to the top of the digital download charts.

Spears, 25, and Federline, 29, divorced in July after nearly three years of marriage, and before this week had shared 50/50 custody of their children. But Kaplan told reporters in August that Federline was seeking greater control of his sons to keep them ''isolated from risks.'' Two weeks ago, Gordon ordered Spears to undergo random drug testing and hire a parenting coach after finding evidence of her ''habitual, frequent and continuous use of controlled substances and alcohol.'' Adding to her legal woes, she was charged days later with leaving the scene of an accident and driving without a valid license after police said she smashed into another car in a parking lot.

Reuters YA DB0907

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