By Associated Press
Updated December 01, 2011 at 02:19 PM EST
Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin/NY Daily News/Getty Images

Country singer Mindy McCready said Wednesday she will probably not be able to bring her 5-year-old son back to Florida to fulfill a judge’s order by Thursday afternoon — because she is nearly seven months pregnant with twins. By not returning as ordered, she risks arrest.

Speaking exclusively to the Associated Press, McCready said that she and her mother have had a long custody battle in Florida over Zander. Her mother was awarded guardianship in 2007. The battle became more public this week, when the Florida Department of Children and Families said a missing person report was filed with police after McCready took Zander from her father’s home. McCready was able to visit with the boy there under a court order and the 36-year-old singer said she had spent much of the past month with her son at the home. Her mother and father are divorced.

McCready alleges that her son suffered abuse while living at her mother’s home and that is one of the reasons why she left with the boy last week. “I’m a mom first,” said McCready from Nashville, Tenn. “No matter what happens, I’m going to protect my kid. If I have to go to jail, so be it.”

When reached at her Lee County home Wednesday night, McCready’s mother, Gayle Inge, said the abuse allegations are “absolutely not true.”

During the interview with the AP, a tearful McCready recounted a messy and confusing tale of court custody battles and family fights. McCready is suing her mother and a tabloid newspaper for libel in a Palm Beach County court.

On Tuesday, DCF discovered that McCready and the boy were not at her father’s home and a judge ruled she must return him voluntarily by 5 p.m. Thursday or risk an arrest warrant. According to Aimee McLaughlin of the Childrens Network of Southwest Florida, a case manager filed a missing person report with the Cape Coral Police on Tuesday. The DCF spokesman said Children’s Network of Southwest Florida is the Community-Based Care agency for the area.

McCready said she was under the impression that the Florida judge was transferring the custody case to Tennessee and that it wouldn’t be a problem if she brought him there. McCready, who was born in Florida and found fame in Nashville as a singer in the 1990s, said she left with her son to the Tennessee city before Thanksgiving. Both McCready and her mother agree that a Florida judge had heard testimony during court hearings at the end of October and early November regarding the singer regaining custody of Zander. Both women agree that the judge had not yet ruled and that he said for now, the boy should remain with his grandmother.

Cape Coral Police Lt. Tony Sizemore said McCready called the department via Skype on Wednesday.

Since topping the country charts in the mid-1990s with her music, the singer’s life has been filled with domestic abuse, drug and DUI arrests and a suicide attempt. In August, she filed the libel suit in Palm Beach County against her mother and the National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc., over a story published in the tabloid newspaper that quoted Inge.

In July 2007, she was accused of scuffling with Inge and resisting arrest at her mother’s home in Florida. She was sentenced to jail for 60 days for a probation violation and released; she served 30 days in jail. She also lost custody of her son. And in 2008, McCready was admitted to a Nashville hospital after police said she cut her wrists and took several pills in a suicide attempt.

During the TV show Celebrity Rehab 3 in 2010, McCready came off as a sympathetic figure, and host Dr. Drew Pinsky called her an angel in the season finale. On the show she said she suffered from love addiction, not substance abuse. In one of the show’s scarier moments, McCready suffered a seizure and was rushed to a hospital where scans showed brain damage.

Also in 2010, police went to Inge’s home for a report of an overdose, and McCready was taken to a Florida hospital. However, neither the hospital nor McCready’s publicist would say why the singer was hospitalized. McCready also fought the release of a tape in which she reportedly talked about former Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens, with whom she had an affair as a teenager.

McCready, whose son could be heard giggling on the other end of the line Wednesday as his mother spoke to the AP, said the father of her twins is a music producer named David who is supportive of her quest to regain custody of Zander.

Wednesday was McCready’s 36th birthday. “I hope that for my birthday, I get my son forever,” McCready said.