Britney Spears in secretive court hearing

Britney Spears and her parents have attended court over her guardianship by the singer's father.
Britney Spears and her parents have attended court over her guardianship by the singer's father.

After hearing Britney Spears and her parents speak in a rare and secretive joint court appearance Friday, a judge ordered an expert evaluation in the guardianship that for 11 years has put control of much of the 37-year-old singer's life in the control of her father.

Only the few left inside know what the three said in the courtroom that was closed to public and media shortly after the hearing began. But Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny wrote in an order afterward that all had agreed on a so-called 730 expert evaluation, a process usually used to determine the mental health and competence of a parent in a divorce case.

It is not made clear who would be examined, and whether it would relate to Spears' relationship to her two sons or her parents' oversight of her.

Spears' ex-husband Kevin Federline has custody of their boys, 13-year-old Sean and 12-year-old Jayden, who have frequent visits with their mother.

Spears' personal attorney Samuel D. Ingham rose at the start of the hearing as many reporters and a handful of fans sat in the audience to say that Spears had requested the proceedings so she could speak to the court, and asked that the room be cleared because personal finances and her minor children would be discussed.

Penny agreed, and Spears and her parents were sneaked in through side doors when the court was empty. They left the same way, and when the courtroom was reopened the hearing was over.

For years, Spears has been publicly silent about the severe restrictions on her decisions put in place by the guardianship established in 2008, when she was having serious personal and psychiatric struggles, many of which played out in public.

Australian Associated Press