The two boys were born in 1995 and 1997. Pursuant to the parents’ divorce in 2001, the children’s residence was set with their mother in England. When exercising a right of access and accommodation at the father’s domicile in France, the father did not return the children as scheduled on 3 January 2009, in reliance on a judgment of the Court at first instance of La Roche sur Yon dated 2 January awarding custody to him on a provisional basis.
On 9 January 2009, the High Court of England held the children’s retention to be wrongful and made them wards of court. The mother applied for their return on the basis of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention. On 2 February 2009, the Poitiers Court at first instance ordered the children’s return. The ruling was upheld by the Poitiers Court of Appeal on 16 April 2009. The father appealed to the Supreme Court.