The decision came after the popstar’s February breakdown – when she attacked a paparazzo’s car with a green umbrella – and a stint of what lawyers called “habitual, frequent and continuous” drug and alcohol use.
Her marriage to rapper and backup dancer Kevin Federline had splintered after only two years together, sending the former teen star into a spiral.
Spears being photographed driving her young children around California was the tipping point; not only did the singer have a disqualified driving licence at the time, she was also facing a hit-and-run charge.
The photographs prompted an emergency custody hearing, one that demanded Sean Preston, then two, and Jayden James, 13 months, be handed over indefinitely to estranged husband Federline within 48 hours.
On the night she lost custody of her boys, an adrift Spears slept in a car park alone.
She was 25 and utterly broken.
Entertainment Editor Laura Brodnik feels that we should leave Britney Spears well and truly alone. She puts forth her case, on The Binge.
A tug of war for their sons would play out in front of the world for months, ultimately ending with the decision that Federline would have full custody of the boys, with Spears allocated supervised visitation rights.
Court documents revealed child-welfare investigators investigated “multiple child-abuse and neglect” allegations against Spears. A spokesperson from the Department of Child and Family Services expressed concerns about the safety and welfare of the two children when they were left with their mother. The court mandated random drug testing, telling Spears her relationship with her children largely hinged on her commitment to getting sober.
Despite the ugly public unravelling of Britney Spears in the press, her career and wealth only seemed to flourish. Her album, Circus, was released in the debris of her humiliation in 2008, and went on to sell more than four million copies worldwide. 2011 would see another smash success with number one album Femme Fatale and by May 2012 the mother-of-two had been named as a judge on The Voice alongside Simon Cowell and Demi Lovato.
More recently, Spears has been performing her wildly popular Las Vegas residency show Britney: Piece of Me, a gig that apparently earns her US$475,000 a night. TMZ reports that, while touring, the celebrity’s salary works out to about US$1,000,000 every week.
And yet, while the most chaotic and destructive time in the ‘Toxic’ singer’s life, a time that established father Jamie would have “permanent control” over her financial and legal affairs, didn’t impact her financially, it was a time that continues to shape the outline of her private life today.
A decade on, the 36-year-old’s family life has slid back under a microscope, with reports Spears and Federline, now a full-time dad, are in a dispute over child support.
While the exact details of their current arrangement are muddy, it appears Kevin Federline continues to be the full legal guardian of Sean and Jayden, and is dissatisfied with the amount of financial support Spears is providing.
Reportedly, Spears sees her children on weekends, or in the periods she is not working.
Federline, who has six children – two from his first fiancé, two with Spears, and two with his current wife Victoria Prince – has requested an increase on the US$20,000 he is sent every month, arguing the amount should be determined by the singer’s annual income.
The request was denied by Jamie Spears, who reportedly offered to assist his former son-in-law with budgeting advice instead.
“Unfortunately, the proposal that came back amounted to no modification of support, but it indicated to me that Mr. Spears has to recognise that he is the conservator for Britney and not for Kevin,” Federline’s lawyer, Mark Vincent Kaplan, told The Blast.
While the child support disagreement is ongoing, this is clear: The hangover of Britney’s public breakdown may not have changed her life as a star, but it did as a mother.
Today, Spears’ Instagram account gives glimpses into her family life; videos of her sons skateboarding, playing the family piano and swimming in the pool. She is now dating 24-year-old model and actor Sam Asghari, and continues to long for a life free from prying eyes.
“All this fame is way too much for me, as it’s really hard to grasp its magnitude… I have these moments where I just want to dress up like a normal person and walk in the street. It goes through my mind quite a lot,” Spears told Marie Claire last year.
“Today I’m at a better place in my life. My kids shaped my personality and filled me. They made me not worry about what was happening to me.”