The pop star, who appeared relaxed in blue jeans and sunglasses as she entered the courtroom – telling reporters, "I'm good, thank you" – emerged 45 minutes later appearing solemn and declining to comment.
But the hearing was a rare victory. The judge expanded her visitation schedule, giving her one monitored overnight visit a week with Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1, a court spokesman said. Lawyers will work on when the new schedule begins.
"Ms. Spears did speak (at the hearing)," says court spokesman Allan Parachini, "and her voice was soft and respectful."
Spears's attorney, Sorrell Trope, tells PEOPLE: "I consider this a very positive sign for my client. I have every expectation that she will comply with all the orders made by the court. I remain absolutely optimistic that she will eventually regain 50-50 custody."
Earlier in the day, another lawyer for Spears asked a judge for overnight privileges, saying the boys are psychologically harmed by being away from their mother.
Calling the current visitation schedule "disruptive" to the children's development, attorney Anne Kiley said the boys are roused from naps and taken from Spears at 3 p.m. on each visit.
Kiley added that Spears's court-mandated monitor is willing to stay overnight to supervise the proposed visits, and suggested that Spears's mother Lynne could also serve as a monitor, since the two had reconciled over the weekend.
Federline Agreed to OvernightsKevin Federline's attorney Mark Vincent Kaplan, who before the hearing had strongly objected to any changes to the visitation schedule, said afterward that Spears's ex was satisfied with the new arrangement.
"Kevin has always been willing to jointly parent these children. He felt confident that the conditions (on Spears) satisfied his concerns," said Kaplan. "Kevin agreed that he would allow additional time to be expanded into the order, provided that the kids (were properly) protected."
The judge, Kaplan noted, maintained the monitored supervision and turned down Spears's suggestion of using her mother as a monitor.
Before Spears appeared, L.A. Superior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon had tentatively rejected the overnight request, though he had asked both sides to confer privately. Spears then showed up at the courthouse. (Neither side was required to be there. Federline did not attend).
Explaining why Spears had not previously been granted more leeway with visitations, Gordon said Spears "made a conscious choice not to do anything" regarding his extensive Sept. 17 rulings, which called for random drug tests, and parenting classes and coaching.
It was also revealed that Spears has only had one session so far with her court-mandated parenting coach. In addition, the commissioner stated he has not seen any drug test results so far, although Trope previously said she has passed more than one.