Sorrell Trope and an attorney for Federline emerged from the closed-door session without comment. The matter was continued until next Tuesday.
Trope, of the law firm Trope and Trope, requested the substitution-of-attorney hearing before an L.A. court commissioner. In the past, he has cited communication problems with Spears.
Trope, who has vacillated for the past six weeks on whether he wants to leave the case, intended to ask to be relieved immediately, sources tell PEOPLE.
Among the possible replacements was Trope’s predecessor, Laura Wasser, who resigned in September.
According to media reports, Wasser visited Spears when she was at the UCLA psych ward earlier this month, and Spears’s parents want her back.
Hearings are scheduled over the next several weeks in the custody case. Currently Federline has full custody of Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1, and Spears can only contact the boys by phone.