The Battle for Britney's Kids

The Battle for Britney's Kids
"She's really good with the kids," says a source close to Spears (leaving L.A. restaurant Cravings with Jayden on Aug. 13). "They light up when they see her."

08/16/2007 AT 12:00 PM EDT

It was 10 p.m. on Aug. 13, and everyone knew where Britney Spears's children were: The glum-looking pop singer and her two boys were finishing a dinner of lemon chicken salad and crab ravioli at the L.A. eatery Cravings. "The kids were very well-behaved. They are adorable," says general manager Emrah Ergenc. Leaving the restaurant, with a sea of photographers swarming her, Spears carefully secured Jayden James into a car seat while a companion took charge of Sean Preston. But if Britney thought having a quiet meal with her sons was a way to demonstrate her parenting skills in public, her actions only drew more fire from her critics. Says a source close to her ex Kevin Federline: "Who takes a 2-year-old to dinner that late at night?"

That's the least of the potentially damaging questions she may face as the custody fight between Spears, 25, and Federline, 29, gets down and dirty. On Aug. 8 Federline's lawyer Mark Vincent Kaplan filed papers requesting primary physical custody of Sean Preston, 23 months, and Jayden, 11 months. According to Kaplan, "Kevin is concerned that the more time the children spend with him, the more insulated they are from risks."

What risks exactly? Kaplan will not comment on the specific reasons Federline is now seeking additional custody, or what he hopes to get from subpoenas issued to Spears's friend Alli Sims, her bodyguard Daimon Shippen and former assistant Shannon Funk. But there's a dossier of headlines for his lawyers to sift through to build a case against her. In the last 30 days Spears – who earlier this year spent time in rehab – has been seen driving aimlessly through L.A., melting down at a photo shoot, doing shots and clubbing until the wee hours with pals and dipping her lollipop into a friend's champagne glasses. And while in Las Vegas with the kids on July 26 – a trip that violated her agreement with Federline – Sean was briefly in the middle of an alleged tussle between two photographers and her bodyguard.

From Our Partners