One day after Spears is ordered to pay $120,000 in lawyer fees for Federline, her new album Blackout receives critical approval and strong early sales. It sells 290,000 copies in its first week, entering at No.2 on Billboard's 200 album chart.
After appearing late to court regarding her custody battle with Federline, Spears locks herself in a room with her youngest son Jayden at her L.A. home and refuses to hand him over to Federline. After a four-hour standoff, Spears is taken out on a gurney (left) and hospitalized for mental evaluation. Custody of the children, Preston, 2, and Jayden, 1, is transferred to Federline (In July, Federline retains sole custody). Less than 24 hours later, Spears, who is reportedly diagnosed as bipolar, is released from the hospital.
Spears is hospitalized again for psychiatric evaluation. "She went willingly. It was like something in her heart was telling her she should go. She knew something was wrong," constant confidant Sam Lutfi tells PEOPLE. But Spears' parents, Jamie and Lynne, battle Lutfi over who decides what is best for Spears. On Feb. 1, Jamie gains legal control over his daughter's affairs, and they are granted a restraining order against Lutfi – who Lynne claims used drugs and insults to control Spears. On Feb. 6, Spears is released early from the UCLA psych ward.
Britney's back at work! Despite the drama in her life, Spears makes a guest appearance on CBS's How I Met Your Mother. The pop star plays a receptionist that falls for one of the show's main characters, played by Josh Radnor (left). "She was hilarious in the table-read, and I got to see her do the run-through as well, and she was great," says cast member Jason Segel. In May, Spears, who reportedly reunites with manager Larry Rudolph, reprises her HIMYM role to strong reviews.
In a vintage silver Versace minidress, Spears makes her triumphant return to the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards, where she wins three Moonmen, including Video of the Year, Best Female Video and Best Pop Video, all for her hit "Piece of Me." After winning her first VMA ever, Spears dedicates the award to her fans. "This is for you," she says.
Spears covers Rolling Stone on the verge of her album release and the premiere of her MTV documentary. In the revealing interview, she discusses recording Circus–which tops the charts and sells more than 500,000 copies–and the importance of being a mom. "They're starting to learn words like 'stupid,' and Preston says the f-word now sometimes," Spears tells the magazine. "He doesn't get it from us. He must get it from his daddy."
Spears begins dating her agent Jason Trawick, a source confirms to PEOPLE. "They're very sweet together," the source says, adding that Spears "always had a crush" on him. "Her dad loves him. He's the best thing that happened to her."
FOX's musical hit Glee pays homage to Spears with its "Britney/Brittany" episode, which earns the show its best-ever rating among adults 18-49. "Watching Baby brings back so many memories. Feels like yesterday," the singer, who appears as herself, a teacher and a cheerleader in the show, Tweets while watching a rendition of her first hit "Baby One More Time."
Spears' seventh studio album Femme Fatale quickly climbs to the top spot on the Billboard charts, snagging the pop star her sixth No. 1 album, which ties her with Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson for career No. 1's. Rolling Stone, which calls the singer "an adventuress," points out that "Femme Fatale may be Britney's best album."
After celebrating her 30th birthday, Spears's longtime love Jason Trawick proposes to the pop star with a Neil Lane sparkler. "OMG. Last night Jason surprised me with the one gift I've been waiting for," Spears Tweets to fans. "Can't wait to show you! SO SO SO excited!"
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