By Janet Fife-Yeomans
The Daily Telegraph
11 July 2007
A mother who went to jail in a tug-of-love row with her ex-partner was quickly reunited with her son and daughter after her release from prison.
As she hugged her young children yesterday, the mother - who made legal history - told The Daily Telegraph .
She was jailed in March by the Federal Magistrates' Court after refusing to allow her ex-partner access to their children, a boy, 8, and girl, 6. She was already on a good behaviour bond for defying court orders when Magistrate Michael Jarrett, sitting in Lismore, took the rare step of jailing her for four months.
The mother said"that she would do it all again. I would but it's not easy," the woman, who cannot be identified, said. I'm just giving them as much love as I can.
In May, the Full Bench of the Family Court, made up of three judges, halved her four-month sentence and released her immediately from jail.
Lawyers expect the judgment, yet to be published, to set fresh guidelines, raising the bar for the jailing of parents who contravene court orders.
In jail for two months, the mother received support from fellow inmates, who praised her for being "gutsy" in standing up for her children and baked her a 31st birthday cake.
Yesterday she revealed how she got through with prayer and believing she had done the right thing.
Refused Legal Aid, the woman organised an appeal from her cell with financial help from family.
The mother saidIt was very rough the first night in a cell, with my children ordered by the court to live with their father. Our families are the most important assets our country has and we need to keep them together. They had never lived with their father since we separated.
Steven Tester, the solicitor for the woman's ex-partner, said the children had "a ball" living with their father.
The mother saidMy children are "extremely confused" after the court ordered the father to return the children to me the day after I got out of jail. What can I say? They've had a really hard time of it …Our children are precious but they are treated like slabs of meat by the courts in many cases and it's very sad.
Court orders have now restricted the father's access to six hours a month.
Dobbs and Brayson (2007) FLC 93-346 Successful appeal against orders of a Federal Magistrate
Jailed mum would do it all again