The proceedings concerned children born in Germany, to married German parents, in November 2000 and August 2003. The family had lived in Germany until August 2006 when the parents took the children to New Zealand to pursue a new life.
Permanent residency visas were issued for all family members on 12 October 2007 and indefinite returning resident visas were issued on 30 November 2009. The parents both had jobs in New Zealand, they purchased a home there, and the children attended school. Ties with Germany had not though been completely severed; an apartment was retained in Munich and the extended family lived in Germany.
In October 2009, the parents separated, but they and the children remained living in Wellington. In June 2010, the family went back to Germany. The intentions of the parents with regard to this and subsequent movements between Germany and New Zealand were the subject of dispute.
In Germany, the mother undertook research for a New Zealand certificate she was seeking to obtain. She did not obtain employment in Germany. The father however took up a permanent position in Germany. The children continued to live primarily with the mother and they were re-enrolled in schools in Munich.
Parents and children were re-registered as living in Munich, as they were intending to stay for more than a three-month period. The family’s New Zealand property was rented out and the contents placed in storage.
In January 2011, the mother indicated that she wished to return to New Zealand with the children. On 2 February, she did go back, but only with the younger child. The child was re-enrolled in school and the mother continued with her employment. Nevertheless, she also applied for two positions in Germany.
The older child travelled to New Zealand on 4 occasions, in March with his grandmother, and with the father in April, June and August. Prior to his scheduled return in September 2011, the mother asked the older child whether he wished to go back to Germany. The mother then advised the father that the child should stay living in New Zealand.
The father then returned to Germany alone, with both children staying with the mother in New Zealand. The mother then de-registered the older child from the Munich population register. However, on 28 October the mother emailed the father requesting him to continue to reserve the older child’s place in his Munich school.
On 16 November, the father applied to the German Central Authority to have the children returned. The father travelled to New Zealand on 25 November. The mother applied for a protection order and also for parenting orders under the Care of Children Act 2004. On 5 February 2012, the father returned to Germany.