The child, a boy, was 2 at the date of the alleged wrongful removal. He had lived in New Zealand all of his life. The parents were not married.
On 10 November 1995 a Family Court appointed counselor facilitated an agreement between the parents whereby the mother would have custody and the father weekly access. On 22 November 1995 the mother took the child to Australia. The father petitioned for the return of the child.
Subsequently the Australian Central Authority applied to the New Zealand Family Court for an Article 15 declaration. A declaration was granted stating that the removal was wrongful. The mother appealed to the High Court.
The High Court allowed the mother’s appeal, finding that the rights in the agreement did not amount to rights of custody and secondly that the agreement did not in any event have legal effect. The father appealed to the Court of Appeal.