The application concerned a baby boy who was born in Belgium on 14 May 2001. The American mother and Belgian father, who were not married, had met in America in early 2000. They began a relationship and the father, who continued to reside principally in Belgium, visited the mother several times in New York during the course of the spring and early summer of 2000. In August 2000 the mother moved into the father’s Manhattan apartment.
In September the mother discovered that she was pregnant. The parents had difficulty in deciding where the baby should be born. In November the mother moved to Belgium. The nature of the move was the subject of dispute. However, it is clear that the mother had a three month visa, only took two suitcases which filled with maternity clothes and she did not make any arrangements for her other possessions.
Before and after the birth the parents’ relationship deteriorated. After securing the father’s consent the mother took the baby to New York on 23 July 2001. Between July and January 2002 the father visited the mother several times and the parties attempted a reconciliation. These attempts failed and in early 2002 the father initiated return proceedings.