A FAMILY court judge has granted a temporary stay allowing the Sunshine Coast sisters at the centre of an international custody battle to remain here until at least September 27.

The Family Court justice had earlier offered the girls' mother an opportunity to challenge his original order on May 16 to return them to Italy.

Their great aunt, arriving at the Federal Court ahead of a stay application, said the two eldest of the four children, aged nine to 15, were already making plans to return to Australia if they are ordered back to Italy with their father.

"They're scared, they're angry, they're profoundly sad," she said.

"Nobody's going to give up, we can't give up."

A Family Court justice offered to hear a discharge application from the mother's lawyers next month.

He said a child dispute resolution officer could assess the children on August 29 and deliver a report by September 7.

The justice said he would ask the officer to assess whether the girls objected to being returned, the cognitive and emotional development of the children and whether they understood an Italian court could order them back to Australia.

He has offered to hear the matter on September 27, knowing the application would probably come anyway with a Federal Court appeal due in the future.

The justice noted circumstances had changed since his original order because the girls were no longer in hiding.

He said the court case could drag on until next year unless the parties agreed to drop their stay application and move to a discharge hearing.

The girls, who hold dual Australian-Italian citizenships, came to Australia on holidays in 2010 and never returned.

Their father is fighting for the right to take them back.

 

11:30am: Mum gets chance to challenge order

THE family of four Sunshine Coast sisters at the centre of an international custody battle will not "give up".

And a Family Court justice has offered the girls' mother an opportunity to challenge his original order on May 16 to return them to Italy.

Their great aunt, arriving at the Federal Court ahead of a stay application, said the two eldest of the four children, aged nine to 15, were already making plans to return to Australia if they are ordered back to Italy with their father.

"They're scared, they're angry, they're profoundly sad," she said.

"Nobody's going to give up, we can't give up."

A Family Court justice has offered to hear a discharge application from the mother's lawyers next month.

He said a child dispute resolution officer could assess the children on August 29 and deliver a report by September 7.

The justice said he would ask the officer to assess whether the girls objected to being returned, the cognitive and emotional development of the children and whether they understood an Italian court could order them back to Australia.

He has offered to hear the matter on September 27, knowing the application would probably come anyway with a Federal Court appeal due in the future.

The justice noted circumstances had changed since his original order because the girls were no longer in hiding.

He said the court case could drag on until next year unless the parties agreed to drop their stay application and move to a discharge hearing.

The girls, who hold dual Australian-Italian citizenships, came to Australia on holidays in 2010 and never returned.

Their father is fighting for the right to take them back.

The case will resume at 11.30am when the families are expected to decide whether they will take up the justice's offer.


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