In a move that surprised many onlookers Monday morning, Britney Spears‘ ex-husband Kevin Federline actually shook the hand of his former father-in-law Jamie Spears, as the two met and chatted casually before the latest in a seemingly neverending string of hearings regarding the custody of K-Fed and Britney’s two boys, Sean Preston and Jayden James.
While Kevin and Jamie have never been the best of buddies, insiders say that the recent decision to allow Brit to see the boys several times a week has eased a little of the tension caused by the nasty divorce and bitter custody war. The pair even reportedly played some golf together over the weekend.
However, inside today’s custody hearing, the mood was a little less than friendly, as Jamie and Brit’s newest legal eagle, divorce diva Stacy Phillips, disputed the sky-high legal bills being presented by both Kevin’s lawyer, Mark Vincent Kaplan, and Britney’s former lawyers at the firm of Trope & Trope.
Under court order, Britney is to foot the majority of Kevin’s legal bills in the case, which to date total around $500,000. And the folks at Trope are claiming invoices in the area of $600,000. Before the courtroom was shut to reporters, Phillips argued that Kaplan is only due somewhere between $150,000 and $175,000.
In his defense, Kaplan, who says he is only requesting to be paid $405,000, argued that his bills were so unexpectedly high because he had to attend eight separate emergency hearings called by Trope, plus time in court to deal with the singer’s drug testing issues, her court-ordered hospitalizations, the restraining orders. He claimed that if Phillips would go through the eight boxes of pleadings and filings since October, she’d see the fees are very reasonable, "given the fact that this is not a simple custody case. Simple custody cases don’t require court-ordered monitors. If this is a simple case, I’m in big trouble." K-Fed’s lawyer also pointed out that his hourly rate is less than the $700 per hour charged by Phillips.
Phillips countered by saying that Kevin "uses his business as a personal checkbook," allegedly spending $20,000 on jewelry, and leaving a $2,000 tip for a $365 meal. "That tip should have been used to pay his lawyers," said Phillips.
Brit’s lawyer also argued Kaplan’s habit of giving post-hearing press conferences is costing Britney money. And while Kaplan says he’s never charged a dime for speaking to the media, Phillips replied that his "strategy of talking to the press creates more hoopla, more fees, more problems for the court and increases fees on Ms. Spears."
Following the hearing, a spokesman for the court told OK! that Commissioner Gordon had not ruled on the payment issue but had "taken it under submission," and that a ruling is not likely to come down today.
Additionally, the court confirmed that Kevin was sworn in today, and did indeed answer a few questions, as did Jamie. However, no changes have been made to the existing visitation agreement.
Later this afternoon, Jamie is back in court for more in that other bit of Britney business — the conservatorship. Stay tuned for details.