Here’s what experts tell PEOPLE about Spears’s lockdown conditions – and what may happen to her and her children following her Thursday night meltdown.
How is she being treated in the hospital?
Committed under California’s “5150 Hold” for 72 hours, Spears was deemed a danger to herself and/or others. Once doctors determine there is no longer a threat of harm, she can leave Cedars-Sinai.
“She will be isolated, and all her behavior will be monitored,” says Dr. Stacy Kaiser, an L.A.-based psychotherapist.. “They’ll make sure she doesn’t have any drugs on her. They will closely watch everything she puts in her mouth. If they’re giving her medication, they will make sure she takes it.” It is unlikely she is being restrained, “but if she is being difficult and argumentative, they could sedate her and strap her down,” says Kaiser, noting that the 5150 is so extreme because it strips a patient of nearly all autonomy.
“Britney has lost the opportunity to make decisions for herself,” she says. “The law is in charge of her. It’s very rare.”
What happens when her 72 hours are up?
Defense attorney Jim Epstein of Los Angeles says that after 72 hours, “if they believe the person is still a danger to themselves or others, they can hold him or her for another 14 days.” Plus, if during any of this “intensive treatment” period the patient has threatened to take their own life as a result of a mental disorder or chronic alcoholism, he or she can be held for 14 more days.
Epstein points out another drastic possibility: confinement up to an additional 180 days if the patient has attempted or threatened physical harm to another during the treatment period.
Still, most “will play ball enough to get out of the hospital,” says Dr. Diana Kirschner, a New York City psychologist.
How does her hospitalization affect her custody rights?
Already stripped of all custody and visitation until at least Jan. 14, she is unlikely to lose visitation rights permanently because “it’s not usually considered in the best interests of the children,” says Lynn Soodik, a certified family law specialist and practicing family law attorney in Los Angeles.
Still, her visitation could be severely curtailed. “She’s getting to the point of: Who’s going to allow her to be alone with her children?” says Soodik. “The factors weighing most heavily against her are the (Thursday) confrontation in front of her children and possible use of an illegal substance.”
How are Sean, 2, and Jayden, 1, holding up?
“A 1-year-old child is very attached to his parents,” says Kaiser. “If his mother is panicked, he is panicked. (Sean) can probably articulate a little bit more and understand a little bit more, so he’s probably more afraid. This is a giant drop in the pool, and all the ripples will follow.”
What can Kevin do to minimize the effects of the situation?
“He needs to be stable and he needs to keep other people as constants in their life,” says Kaiser. “Those kids need as much stability in their lives as they can get right now in order to minimize the effects of what their mom is doing.”
• Reporting by LISA INGRASSIA, ALEXIS CHIU and RYAN PIENCIAK