Monday, January 14, 2008

Britney Advised To Appear At Court Today

Britney Spears has been "strongly advised" by her legal team to attend a custody hearing Monday, a reliable source revealed to PEOPLE. "Absolutely she's been advised to show," the source says. "Her attendance is important." The hearing is expected to focus on the four-hour standoff at her Studio City home on January 3. Police, firefighters and paramedics will testify in a Los Angeles courtroom as to what occurred that night, which ended with Britney’s forced hospitalization.

Britney and ex-husband Kevin Federline are not required to show, but, "Britney needs to be there because it's much easier to defend your client if he/she is present to refute what witnesses say," says L.A. family lawyer Scott Weston, who's not involved with the case. "Whether she takes the stand or not depends on what witnesses say, and whether or not her lawyers think her testimony may backfire," Weston adds. "But they've got nowhere to go but up at this point. Also, if she doesn't attend, it shows a lack of interest on her part in getting back her kids."

Kevin currently has sole legal and physical custody of their children, Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1. The pop star was stripped of all visitation rights following her hospitalization. Also at issue Monday is whether the court would extend its ban on Britney’s visitation. Kevin's lawyer, Mark Vincent Kaplan, told PEOPLE that it's possible Britney might not see her children until April, when the ex-couple's custody trial begins. (Kevin has requested primary physical custody.)

In April, a child custody evaluator will recommend to the court who should have the kids. But no custody arrangement is permanent, legal experts say, since either party can always request a court to change them.