Spears, Federline child custody remains in doubt

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LOS ANGELES, Oct 27 (Reuters) Troubled singer Britney Spears and ex-husband Kevin Federline fought another round in the battle for custody of their two children with Federline's attorney saying a ruling was expected early next week.

''We don't know what the custody arrangement will be until we get the court's order on Monday,'' Federline's attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan, said after a more than three-hour hearing before Superior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon, who will make the ruling.

The hearing was closed to the media but various reports had Spears either straight-faced, crying or cursing during bathroom breaks.

Spears' attorney, Anne Riley, left the courtroom saying only ''we're very pleased'' with the outcome of Friday's hearing and telling reporters Britney felt ''fantastic.'' Kaplan said he had not yet had a chance to talk with Federline.

Spears, whose behavior in the past year has made her a constant tabloid covergirl, arrived at court in a black dress, boots and sporting sunglasses. Federline wore a gray suit.

Spears, 25, and Federline, 29, split a year ago and have been waging a legal battle for their two sons. In recent weeks, Gordon has ruled the children should stay with Federline and offered limited visitation for Spears.

Gordon ordered both to seek counseling and hire a parenting coach and said Spears would have to undergo random drug and alcohol testing after finding she had shown ''habitual, frequent and continuous use of controlled substances and alcohol.'' Since then, she has lost and regained visitation rights to her 1- and 2-year-old sons while struggling to adhere to Gordon's orders.

SPEARS' DOWNWARD SPIRAL The pop diva, who rose to stardom on the Disney Channel as a child, built a loyal following in the late 1990s and early 2000s mostly among young girls. She had hit albums such as ''... Baby One More Time'' and ''Oops! ... I Did It Again.'' But as a young adult Spears began hitting the nightclub circuit in Hollywood and partying with the likes of other young celebrities like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.

Following her break-up with Federline, Spears' life seemed to spiral out of control. She spent time in drug and alcohol rehab, shaved her head, clashed with paparazzi and become the fodder for jokes after being photographed in public without wearing underwear.

On Thursday, a judge dismissed an automobile hit-and-run case against her after she settled with the owner of the car she hit, and she pleaded not guilty to a lesser charge of driving without a license.

But her singing career appears to be rebounding with a recent single, ''Gimme More,'' that is topping digital download charts, and a new album ''Blackout,'' set for release October 30.

Meanwhile, as Spears and Federline fought in court on Friday, a publisher said the pop star's mother is writing a book about parenting.

Religious publisher Thomas Nelson said it will publish ''Pop Culture Mom: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World,'' by Lynne Spears. Nelson spokesman Curt Harding said the book, to be out next spring, will be about Lynne Spears' raising three children and will have a religious element.

REUTERS SZ PM0750

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