A Family Court judge this afternoon ordered four sisters involved in an international custody battle to return to their father in Italy.

The girls’ mother shed tears as Justice Colin Forrest delivered his decision, dismissing her appeal to keep the girls in Australia.

The judge made the order, after lawyers for the girls’ father confirmed he would not pursue criminal charges against the mother.

Zac Street reports.


Today’s decision is the culmination of months of anticipation.

Last week, following a string of failed appeals, the girls’ mother launched a last ditch application in the Family Court to discharge an order for the girls to return to their father in Italy.

In 2010, the four sisters travelled to Australia with their mother for a one-month holiday and they’ve stayed ever since.

In May this year, the girls went into hiding to evade an existing court ruling to have the custody dispute settled in Italy.

Family law experts say judges are bound by the Hague Convention on child abduction when considering custody disputes.

Deborah Awyzio, Family Law specialist: “Under the Hague Convention, the best interest of the children are not the paramount consideration. It’s more whether there’s been a wrongful removal of the children.”

Ms Awyzio says the case could potentially change the precedent in family law cases.

Deborah Awyzio, Family Law specialist: “If Australia is seen as not upholding their obligation under the convention then that may have impact when an Australian child has been abducted in another country.”

The Family Court has been the epicentre of this custody dispute. A battle that’s attracted worldwide media attention.

The Department of Communities will accompany the girls back to Italy but it’s not known when that will happen.

Zac Street, QUT News.