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Italian father in custody battle sues ex-wife

The father of four Italian sisters caught in an international custody battle is pursuing his Australian former wife for $120,000 in costs he incurred fighting to take his daughters back to Italy.

Late last month Brisbane firm Porta Lawyers wrote to the mother, saying they had been instructed to seek $118,172.55 from her.

The judges ruled that costs were not to be awarded to the father. 

This includes $14,650 for her former husband's flights to and from Australia, $6500 for 82 days of accommodation and $34,300 for loss of income during the five months he was in Australia seeking to have his daughters returned. It also includes $62,722.55 in legal fees and court costs.

Posting the letter on the Kids Without Voices Facebook page, supporters of the mother said: ''In the last appeal hearing, the judges ruled that costs were not to be awarded to the father.''

The letter demanded the money be paid within 14 days, which expired on April 4. ''If the above sum is not paid in full by the required date, we hold instructions to commence formal legal proceedings to recover the debt from you,'' Porta partner Fabio Orlando wrote.

Mr Orlando did not respond to requests for comment.

Born and raised in Italy, the girls, aged 15, 14, 11 and 9, were caught up in a custody battle after their mother brought them to Australia in 2010 on the pretext of a holiday. Although the girls pleaded to be allowed to stay, a Family Court judge in Brisbane ordered they be returned to Italy for the courts there to decide which parent they should live with.

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