Two children whose Irish father died in an incident at his home in the US state of North Carolina earlier this month have been placed under the guardianship of his sister and her husband.
Jack and Sarah Corbett had been in the care of their American stepmother since their father, Jason Corbett, was found dead at their home in Panther's Creek Court, Walburg, on 3 August.
Police say he died following what they described as a domestic incident.
The children are now with their aunt, Tracey Lynch, and her husband David following a court decision last night.
A court hearing to formally allow Jack and Sarah return to Ireland will take place tomorrow.
Mr Corbett’s wife Molly Martens-Corbett and her father Thomas Martens, a retired FBI agent, have been questioned about his death, but no arrests have been made.
The children's mother, Mags Corbett, died nine years ago from an asthma attack.
Ms Lynch attended a seven-hour hearing last Friday to determine whether the children would remain in the custody of Ms Martens or be allowed return to Ireland with their aunt, as their father's will states.
Mr Corbett's remains were repatriated last week with the help of the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, but his family said his funeral would not take place until his children were home.
Mr Corbett's oldest brother has said it would be an absolute travesty if the children were allowed to remain with Ms Martens and her father.
Speaking to RTÉ's Today with Keelin Shanley, John Corbett said with the love and care of his family, the children will recover and deal from this traumatic event.
He thanked the Child and Family Agency, Tusla, and Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan for providing vital documents to support the Corbett family in the custody dispute in the US.
John Corbett said his brother made it very clear for the last year that he wanted his children to grow up in Ireland for their teens.
He said his brother had refused Ms Martens' requests to adopt the children, as well as appointing his sister, Ms Lynch, and her husband as their guardians.
Clerk of Davidson Superior Court Brian Shipwash said that he made "many judicial decisions on a daily basis", but that "naming a Guardian for a minor child who has no living natural parents" was a decision that "impacts an individual's life forever."
He said "he was almost certain" that Jack and Sarah's late parents, "would want their children to be raised in the land of their origin where the culture, religion, customs, and their extended family on both sides are prepared to nurture them."
On Monday, Mr Shipwash issued a temporary order appointing Tracey and David Lynch as guardians of the children.
Davidson County Social Services were ordered to remove the children from the care of their stepmother, and into the care of their uncle and aunt.
The formal guardianship order was made yesterday, which stated that the court had concluded that appointing Tracey and David Lynch as the children's legal guardians was in Jack and Sarah's best interests.
The "findings of fact" outlined in the order said that the children's former au pair "acted as a mother figure in the household", was "very active" in the children's lives "both with school and extracurricular activities" and they referred to her as "mother or mom."
It stated that in June or July or 2013, Molly Corbett confided to Lynn Shanahan, Sarah's godmother, that she had sought legal advice regarding custody of the children in the case of divorce, while in autumn 2014 she spoke to a lawyer about her rights in relation to the children.
It stated that her late husband would not consent to a step-parent adoption even though his wife had expressed her wish to adopt the children.
It also acknowledged that Jason Corbett had appointed his sister and brother-in-law to be the children's guardians in his will, dated April 11 2007.
While not definitive, the court papers stated that such a "testamentary recommendation of guardian" would be viewed as a strong guide for a clerk in appointing guardian unless a different decision was in the child's best interests.
It was also stated that David and Tracey Lynch "maintained an ongoing relationship" with the two children, and "have a suitable home and familial support" to give the children "a nurturing environment to deal with the deaths of both of their parents..."
The couple had also arranged schools for the children as well as counselling for them.
Molly Corbett's application for a motion for the order to be reconsidered and stayed was denied.
All parties were ordered to appear at the District Court sitting of the court tomorrow, which is dealing with the application for custody of the children.
In light of yesterday's determination as to legal guardianship of the children, it is expected that the custody proceedings will be dissolved.