The case concerned two girls born in France in August 2010 and June 2013. The appellant father, a French national, and defendant mother, a British and Canadian national, were not married. The family lived in France until July 2013, when the mother moved to Scotland with the children. Both parties submitted that they had agreed that the mother and children would remain in Scotland for one year. They expressed different views, however, about their agreement on what would happen after the termination of this one-year period: the father asserted that the mother and children would return to France, while the mother asserted that the whole family would assume residence in another country.
Once in Scotland, the mother and children initially lived with the mother’s parents, and later moved into a rented house that the mother and father selected together. The family home in France was sold in August 2013, which is also when the oldest child began attending nursery school in Scotland. The children and father visited each other regularly.
In November 2013, the mother told the father that she wished to end their relationship, after discovering his infidelity. She sought a residence order in Scotland in respect of the children. The father filed for a return order under the Child Abduction and Custody Act 1985—the incorporating legislation of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention—on the basis that the initiation of the mother’s proceedings amounted to wrongful retention under the Convention.
At first instance, the Outer House of the Court of Session held that the children had been habitually resident in France immediately before the alleged wrongful retention. This decision was overturned by the Extra Division of the Inner House of the Court of Session.