Britney Spears & Kevin Federline's Hearing Begins

The pop star is seen looking distraught outside of the progress report hearing

Photo: Damian Dovarganes/AP

Britney Spears was seen looking distraught during a break in the Los Angeles family court hearing with Kevin Federline on Tuesday – though later she smiled as she walked back to the courtroom with her mother.

The singer appeared red-eyed and holding her lawyer’s hand as she left the courtroom during the first of two breaks at the hearing in the couple’s ongoing custody battle.

Spears and her lawyers, as well as Federline and his attorney, convened to adjacent rooms outside of the courtroom during the break. “This has happened before and it’s completely unpredictable,” court spokesman Allan Parachini said of the recess. He added that there has been no testimony in Tuesday’s hearing so far.

At the end of the break, Spears smiled and seemed in good spirits as she made her way back to the courtroom with her mom, Lynne.

The hearing began around 9:40 a.m. on Tuesday. Spears, looking subdued in a knee-length brown and white dress, walked into the courtroom with her lawyer and both of her parents. Federline, wearing a tan pinstriped suit and looking upbeat, entered the courtroom accompanied by his lawyer, Mark Vincent Kaplan.

Commissioner Scott Gordon asked all parties to state their names. Spears, who was first, answered quietly “Britney.” Gordon then requested that she state her full name. The singer’s divorce attorney, Stacy Phillips, requested that the hearing be closed to the public, which was granted.

Though Spears has spent the last several months keeping a relatively low profile – and staying out of trouble – experts say it’s unlikely the pair’s current custody arrangement will change.

“As long as Britney remains under a conservatorship, she has a long way to go before the court views her as a capable mother,” says L.A. family lawyer Scott Weston, who is not involved in the case.

Spears, who was hospitalized at UCLA Medical Center‘s psych ward in January, currently has monitored visitation rights with her sons, Preston, 2, and Jayden, 1, several times a week – but no overnight privileges. Her father, Jamie, and a lawyer maintain legal control of her affairs until a July 31 hearing.

Spears has a spotty record of attending previous court hearings: On at least two occasions, the singer briefly appeared then abruptly left – in part due to the media frenzy.

Since her father took control of Spears’s life, the singer has been spending more time with her family – including her previously estranged mom. (She recently attended a baby shower for her sister, Jamie Lynn, in Kentwood, La.)

Spears has also been hard at work filming her second appearance on How I Met Your Mother, which will air May 12.

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