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Troubled mother loses care battle over fifth child

A troubled mother has been told by the Family Court that she cannot care for her fifth child.

The mother had spent time in care during her childhood and first became pregnant at 14 years old. All four of her eldest children were taken away by the local authority. This was because of claims that the parents, who both suffered abuse during their childhoods, had a history of “substance misuse”. Additionally, the father had a criminal history and the mother’s relationship with a previous partner was described as “dysfunctional”. The local authority also cited the aggressive behaviour of both parents as a factor in their decision to take the children away.

Both parents had also diagnosed with several mental health conditions. The mother had bipolar affective disorder (formerly known as manic depression) – a condition which manifests as alternating periods of depression and elation – and schizoaffective disorder. People who suffer from this condition can be prone to psychotic symptoms. Meanwhile, the father was diagnosed with “paranoid schizophrenia, antisocial personality disorder, borderline learning disability, and emotional unstable personality disorder”.

When the mother was pregnant with her fifth child, ‘AP’, the local authority carried out a “pre-birth assessment” of the parents. This concluded that there was “no evidence of any significant change since the previous proceedings” in the parents’ behaviour and insight into their own shortcomings.

Consequently, the local authority launched care proceedings on the same day that AP was born. The girl was placed into foster care shortly afterwards. They proposed a care plan which would place AP with the mother’s cousin and her husband. AP’s parents both objected and claimed their daughter should be returned to them.

Sitting at the Family Court in Oxford, Her Honour Judge Owens said that this was “an extremely sad case”, particularly because it was clear to all involved that “the parents both love AP and dearly want to look after her”.

However, she said that the couple had “significant issues which they have yet to address”. As a result, they risk “physical and emotional harm not just to AP but to any child in their care”, the judge added. Therefore she approved the local authority’s plan and made a care order placing AP with the mother’s cousin.

The full text of the judgement is available online here.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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