The children, three girls, were 10 _, 4 _ and 3 _ years old respectively at the date of the alleged violation of the father’s access rights. On 20 November 1997 the parents had been granted a divorce by an American court. The Swiss/American mother was granted custody, the American father access.
In 1998 the mother left the United States for Switzerland, taking the children with her. On 15 May 1998 the American court modified the access rights granted by the divorce decree to reflect these new circumstances. However the father was unable to exercise his access rights as granted in the 1998 judgment. He therefore filed a request for assistance with the Swiss Central Authority in order to find an amicable solution with the mother.
The negotiations did not result in new arrangements for access. The father filed a request for access rights before the Swiss court.