The child, a boy, was 1 at the date of the alleged wrongful retention. He had lived in both the United States and Germany. The parents were separated.
On 27 April 1998 the Circuit Court for Baltimore County declared binding a parental agreement whereby the parents were to have joint legal custody of the child. It further provided that the child was to spend two thirds of each year in Germany and one third in the United States. This was to be arranged on a 2 month / 1 month rolling basis.
On 29 April 1998 the mother took the child to Germany. They were scheduled to return on 22 June 1998. They did not return. On 29 June 1998 a Maryland court granted the father temporary sole custody. The father applied for the return of the child.