Sexual abuse survivor regains custody of children after legal battle

A mother, known as “Amy” for privacy, recently won back custody of her three children in Leeds Family Court after a challenging 14-month separation.

The court initially removed the children due to concerns about Amy’s mental health and her partner’s substance abuse. Amy, from Bradford, expressed to the BBC that better local mental health services could have prevented this separation in July 2022.

Amy, who suffers from bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, anxiety, and depression, felt devastated when her children were taken. Her partner, previously addicted to crack cocaine and heroin, had successfully overcome his addictions. The court acknowledged the couple’s efforts in therapy and their improvement, leading to the children’s return.

Amy criticised the lack of support provided to them initially, stating that they received no assistance to stabilise and rebuild their family. Despite the challenges, the couple paid for counselling themselves, with Bradford Council later covering the costs.

The case highlighted the need for automatic mental health support for parents in similar situations. Richard Devine, a social worker, suggested bypassing costly psychological assessments in favour of direct therapy, considering the high costs of care proceedings.

The family is now under a 12-month supervision order with regular social worker visits to monitor their progress. The court praised their significant positive changes in parenting. Amy, allowed limited contact during proceedings, reflects on the lasting impact of the ordeal, fearing long-term consequences for herself and her children. Bradford Children and Families Trust has yet to comment on the case.

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