LOS ANGELES - Britney Spears' continuing downward spiral took a devastating turn Monday when she was ordered to relinquish physical custody of her children by a judge who had cited her drug-and-alcohol-fueled lifestyle.
Superior Court Judge Scott M. Gordon ruled that ex-husband Kevin Federline will take custody of Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1, beginning Wednesday "until further order of the court."
The order stemmed from an unspecified oral motion made by Federline's attorneys and was handled in a closed-door hearing. All transcripts were sealed. Phone messages left for representatives of Spears and Federline were not returned.
Last month, Gordon ordered Spears to undergo random drug and alcohol testing twice a week as part of her custody dispute with Federline. She also was ordered to meet weekly with a "parenting coach." Both she and Federline must complete the court's "Parenting Without Conflict" class.
Spears, 25, and Federline, 29, were wed in October 2004. They divorced in July. The two have joint custody of their sons, but Federline is seeking a greater share of custody.
Spears' troubles have played out in the tabloids. Photos captured her without panties. She shaved her head and spent a month in rehab. An MTV Video Music Awards performance last month was panned. The next week her management firm dropped her and her divorce lawyer resigned.
She then was charged with misdemeanor counts of hit-and-run and driving without a license for allegedly crashing into a parked car in August.
The last offenses likely compelled Monday's court order, said N.Y. divorce lawyer Raoul Felder. "She was driving without a license with a child in the car," he said. "You can put aside the in and out of rehab, the shaving her head. But this? When a judge went out on a limb for her? There's no going back."