A judge's decision Monday to force Britney Spears to relinquish custody of her two children may have been prompted by evidence of more bad behavior by Spears, such as violating an earlier court order requiring her to undergo drug and alcohol testing and attend parenting classes, child custody lawyers told ABC News.
Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon ruled Monday that Spears' ex-husband, Kevin Federline, would take custody of Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1, beginning at noon Wednesday "until further order of the court."
The order was the result of an oral motion made by Federline's attorneys and was handled in a closed-door hearing, The Associated Press reported. The subject of the motion wasn't immediately disclosed, and the judge's order didn't give a reason for the change in custody.
Alexandra Leichter, a child custody lawyer in Beverly Hills, Calif., said that courts normally do not take custody away from a parent without a full hearing unless a judge believes the children are in danger.
"She must have done something that the court felt was dangerous to the health and welfare of the kids," Leichter said. "She must have done something extremely serious," such as violating the court's previous orders, possessing drugs or failing to attend mandatory drug testing, Leichter said.
Last month, Gordon said Spears engaged in "habitual, frequent and continuous use of controlled substances and alcohol." He ordered her to undergo random drug and alcohol testing twice a week as part of her ongoing custody dispute with Federline.
Spears was also ordered to meet weekly with a "parenting coach" who would report back to the court about her parenting skills. Both Spears and Federline must complete the court's Parenting Without Conflict class.
Violations of that order could have prompted the judge's decision Monday, lawyers said.
On Sept. 22, Spears was charged with multiple misdemeanor counts of hit and run and driving without a valid license after she allegedly rammed her car into another in August.
Celebrity divorce lawyer Raoul Felder told ABC News that the driving charges could also have been behind Monday's decision.
"She blew it," he said. "In spite of everything, the judge had given her temporary custody, and she couldn't even handle that."
"I think it's over," he said. "He can never trust her again."
Spears and Federline married in 2004 but were divorced in July 2007. The two have joint legal custody of their sons. Attorneys for Spears and Federline did not return calls for comment Monday evening. Though Spears must give up physical custody of the children for now, she and Federline still share legal custody.
The court will probably hold a full hearing on the custody issue within 20 or 25 days, said Leichter, at which time Spears will have a chance to argue that her children are not in danger with her or to disprove any allegations against her.
"Britney Spears needs to grow up," said Lynn Gold Bikin, former chairwoman of the American Bar Association's family law section. "She can have her kids when she learns to love her kids more than she loves partying."
With reporting by The Associated Press, Lauren Pearle and the ABC News Law & Justice Unit.