Photographers snap Spears leaving the Beverly Hills Hotel with Kevin Federline, a backup dancer, and reports declare they're a couple. Shar Jackson, Federline's girlfriend, who is pregnant with his second child, tells PEOPLE, "This just isn't right."
Spears and Federline marry in a surprise ceremony at a private home in Studio City, Calif. The wedding is planned for Oct. 16, but as press attention grows, the couple invite 27 friends and family members to what they pretend is an engagement party. Spears wears a $26,000 strapless silk gown by designer Monique Lhuillier. She describes the wedding as "my fairy tale dream."
A month after the couple announces they are expecting their first child together, their six-episode show Britney and Kevin: Chaotic debuts on UPN. The show, which barely makes a blip in the Nielsen ratings, chronicles the beginnings of the couple's relationship prior to their 2004 wedding.
Spears gives birth to son Sean Preston by C-section. He weighs 6-lb. 11-oz. While still pregnant, Spears told PEOPLE, "I find being pregnant empowering. I think it brings out a pure side of you, and I think that's cool."
When photos are published of Spears driving with 5-month-old son Sean Preston on her lap, critics question her parenting skills. She says she did the same thing with her dad as a child ("I'd sit on his lap and he'd drive. We're country," she tells NBC's Matt Lauer). "I love my baby more than anything and as unfortunate an experience as this has been for me and my family, if it brings more attention to child safety then I fully support that," she tells PEOPLE.
Not one to let pregnancy inspire modesty, a dark-haired Spears, who is pregnant with her second child, appears nude on the August cover of Harper's Bazaar. "It made me want to cry a little bit, doing these photos," she says. "I started feeling like myself again." On Sept. 12, Spears welcomes son Jayden James. "It just kind of happened," Spears tells PEOPLE of the second pregnancy.
After dropping in on David Letterman at the Late Show looking like her former, sexy self and wearing a short black dress and blonde bob, Spears files for divorce from Federline, citing "irreconcilable differences." While he continues on his promotional tour, she's spotted out and about in Manhattan. She is also seen partying in L.A. and Las Vegas with Paris Hilton.
Spears goes back into rehab after checking in and out within just a few days. She checked out of the Malibu rehab center she entered a day earlier after a weekend of clubbing and shaving her head. On March 20, she is released from the Promises Malibu Treatment Center after completing its program during her one-month stay.
After their divorce is finalized, Federline files for primary physical custody of their two boys and subpoenas Spears' friend Alli Sims, bodyguard Daimon Shippen and former assistant Shannon Funk to testify about her parenting skills. In September, a judge rules that Spears must undergo random drug testing, meet with a "parenting coach" twice a week, and with Federline complete a program called "Parenting Without Conflict." A few weeks later, she loses temporary custody of her boys.
Spears releases her comeback single, "Gimme More," to strong reviews, kicking off her upcoming album. But when the pop star opens the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards, her live performance is a bust. The New York Times says of Spears, "She didn't disappoint; she was awful. Visibly nervous, she tottered around the stage, dancing tentatively and doing nothing that sounded or looked like real live singing." The following week, her management company The Firm quits.
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