updated 01/13/2008 AT 8:00 PM ET
•originally published 01/14/2008 AT 6:30 AM ET
Britney Spears has been “strongly advised” by her legal team to attend a custody hearing Monday, a reliable source tells PEOPLE.
“Absolutely she’s been advised to show,” the source says. “Her attendance is important.”
The hearing is expected to focus on the four-hour standoff at her Studio City home on Jan. 3. Police, firefighters and paramedics will testify in a Los Angeles courtroom as to what occurred that night, which ended with Spears’s forced hospitalization.
Spears, 26, and ex-husband Kevin Federline, 29, are not required to show, but, “Britney needs to be there because it’s much easier to defend your client if he/she is present to refute what witnesses say,” says L.A. family lawyer Scott Weston, who’s not involved with the case.
“Whether she takes the stand or not depends on what witnesses say, and whether or not her lawyers think her testimony may backfire,” Weston adds. “But they’ve got nowhere to go but up at this point. Also, if she doesn’t attend, it shows a lack of interest on her part in getting back her kids.”
Federline currently has sole legal and physical custody of their children, Preston, 2, and Jayden, 1. The pop star was stripped of all visitation rights following her hospitalization.
Also at issue Monday is whether the court would extend its ban on Spears’s visitation. Federline’s lawyer, Mark Vincent Kaplan, told PEOPLE that it’s possible Spears might not see her children until April, when the ex-couple’s custody trial begins. (Federline has requested primary physical custody.)
Kaplan told the Associated Press that he didn’t know if Spears would appear at the hearing, but that if she does, she would be expected to testify.
“She will have the opportunity to persuade the court that she can have some visitation under monitored conditions,” he told AP.
In April, a child custody evaluator will recommend to the court who should have the kids.
But no custody arrangement is permanent, legal experts say, since either party can always request a court to change them.