Teen Mom OG fans have watched Amber Portwood deal with numerous custody battles throughout the years. The MTV star — who shares daughter Leah, born in 2008, with ex Gary Shirley, and son James, born in 2018, with ex Andrew Glennon — has long struggled with substance abuse and mental health issues, which led her into legal trouble and cost her plenty of parenting time with her children.
In July 2022, after a three-year battle with Glennon following her 2019 arrest for domestic battery, Portwood lost custody of James. Per The Sun, the judge also granted the cinematographer’s request to relocate with James from Portwood’s native Indiana to Glennon’s home state of California.
“I’ve worked so hard to better myself and improve my relationships with my children. While I’ve always been candid about my past substance abuse and struggles with mental illness, a person should have the chance to redeem themselves and not be tethered to their problems from the past,” the 16 and Pregnant alum said in a statement to Us Weekly after the ruling.
She added, “I’ve spent years rebuilding bridges and did everything that was required of me, including submitting 21 negative drug tests and undergoing multiple psychological evaluations, if your road has not been perfect, but you’ve worked hard to become a better, more stable and caring person today, keep moving forward as I will. I’ll never stop fighting for my children who I love more than anything.”
Portwood further noted on Instagram that she was “devastated and heartbroken” by the decision, calling the situation a “nightmare.”
Glennon used the same metaphor when revealing his opposing reaction. “We endured the nightmare,” the videographer told E! News after the case was resolved. “Now we get to live the dream.”
The former couple’s custody battle began after Portwood was arrested over the 2019 4th of July weekend for allegedly throwing a shoe at Glennon and wielding a machete at him while he was holding baby James, who was 13 months old at the time. The reality star was arrested and pleaded guilty to domestic battery and intimidation. She struck a plea deal in the case, per the Indy Star, and was sentenced to over 900 days of probation.
The incident not only affected Portwood’s relationship with Glennon and James, but also greatly impacted her relationship with daughter Leah — which was already rocky due to the mother-daughter duo’s own issues, many of which stemmed from Portwood’s previous jail time. (She served 17 months in prison from 2012 to 2013 for violating probation in her prescription drug case.)
“[Leah] knows a lot of what’s going on,” Kristina Shirley, Leah’s stepmom and Gary’s wife, revealed on an August 2019 episode of TMOG. “I think the only thing she’s said to me is, ‘If Mommy goes back to prison, what happens to James? Will James be taken away from me as well?’ I don’t have those answers.”
Keep scrolling to see Portwood’s custody arrangements with Leah and James: