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Mother wins reprieve in international custody dispute

Four sisters caught up in an international custody dispute have been allowed to remain with their mother in Australia for a further month after a Family Court judge agreed to another hearing, reports the Brisbane Times.

The girls had lived in Italy with their parents, an Australian mother and Italian father. After the couple split up in 2007, the mother stayed in Italy and the parents shared custody. According to the Brisbane Times, the mother brought the girls to Australia for a one month holiday in 2010, but did not return to Italy.

Their father applied for the children to be returned under the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention so that custody could be decided under Italian law. The Family Court in Brisbane issued a return order in 2011, but the children went into hiding with their mother.

The Court has now agreed to hear an application to discharge the return order, and that the girls can remain with their mother until that time. A family consultant will interview the children to ensure that their wishes are fully taken into account in deciding whether the return order should stand.

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