A woman has been denied access to her children for three years, accused of trying to turn them against their father
AS the wife of a successful City financier with three young boys, she seemed to have it all.
Yet after a bitter divorce and a protracted battle with Britains family courts system, the woman now finds herself bereft. She no longer lives in an imposing home counties farmhouse and for the past three years she has been denied any direct access to her children.
Barred from approaching them in any way, she has been repeatedly arrested for breaching the terms of the injunction against her.
She was once even jailed after encountering her eldest son in the street and telling him she loved him. Now she faces the prospect of incarceration once more. This summer the woman will be hauled before the courts again for having posted a video of her case on the internet.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has not been excluded from her childrens lives because she presents a physical danger to them. Her failing, in the eyes of the courts, was to have turned the boys against their father.
The remarkable case is likely to prompt fresh calls for more open scrutiny of the family courts system. Although recent reforms allow limited reporting of some hearings, most remain secret.
The family began to break up in 2004, when the eldest child was nine. The woman, in her forties, said: Looking back, I think I was still suffering from post-natal depression and I was unhappy with the way my husband was talking to me and towards the children. The rapid expansion in the size of the family was quite stressful and our marriage just disintegrated.
When she made it clear she was considering a divorce, the fallout affected the childrens behaviour and social services were called in. The boys were placed on an at-risk register for the possible emotional abuse they were suffering. It was agreed that the mother would care for them during the day but vacate the family home in the evening and stay with her own mother. I was told by the social services that if I did not agree to that, then they would take the children away from me, she said.
When they asked me about my drinking, I naively thought honesty was the best policy and told them I was drinking two or three glasses of wine in the evening. Before the marriage broke up, she had asked her GP for help over her alcohol use.
She subsequently agreed to attend a clinic for treatment but stayed for only a short time, emerging to find that the police wanted to arrest her over an allegation by her husband that she had scratched his arm.