The proceedings related to a child born in Argentina in April 2008 to an Argentine father and an American mother from Puerto Rico. The child moved regularly between Argentina and the United States of America. The parents’ relationship was characterized by periods of separation and reconciliation. There was one incident in 2010 where the mother had retained the child in the United States of America contrary to an agreement between the parents, but she ultimately went back to Argentina.
On 31 January 2011, the family travelled to Florida, before going to Puerto Rico to spend time with the maternal family. A return was planned for 2 March 2011. The stay was extended following the mother’s involvement in a car accident and her desire to pursue a business venture with her sister. Around mid-March 2011, the mother announced that neither she nor the child would be returning to Argentina. The father remained on Puerto Rico as long as his tourist visa permitted.
On 7 July, two days before the visa’s expiry, the parents executed an affidavit, drafted by the mother, regarding the care and supervision of the child during the father’s absence. The affidavit authorized the mother to take any steps necessary to provide for the education, health care, and overall well-being of the child. A provision authorized the child to travel with either parent. At the father’s insistence, a provision was included stating he was leaving the United States “against his will” and was not abandoning his child. He eventually left the country on 9 July 2011. After leaving, the father maintained continuous and frequent communication with his son.
On 18 November 2011, the mother filed for legal custody of the child in a Puerto Rico state court. On 19 December, the father filed a return petition with the Argentina Central Authority, and an action was filed with the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico on 22 February 2012. On 16 August 2012, the District Court dismissed the father’s petition. The father appealed.