The child, a boy, was 5 at the date of the alleged wrongful removal. He had lived in the United States all of his life. The parents were divorced, both in accordance with the Jewish religion and with the laws of the State of New York. According to the decision of the Rabbinical Court in New York, dated 3 January 1988, the child was to remain in the mother’s custody until the age of six, then the father could relitigate the custody issue.
The decision also stated that the father was to have visitation rights, and every important decision in the child’s life required the father’s approval. Under the judgment issued by the Court of the State of New York, on 18 February 1989, the parties were allowed to reside wherever they saw fit, however, each party was to inform the other of any change of address.
In 1991 the mother remarried, and planned to move to Israel with the child. On 31 July 1992 the father applied to the New York State Court for a temporary order forbidding the child to be taken out of New York. This was granted and a date was set for an inter partes hearing. However, the mother succeeded in having that hearing postponed on several occasions. Eventually on the designated day, 31 August she did not appear and a warrant was issued for her arrest.
The father subsequently discovered that the mother had taken the child to Israel. On 3 March 1993, he filed a request with the US Central Authority and on 23 May 1993 his return petition was filed in the Jerusalem District Court. On 31 August 1993, the Jerusalem District Court dismissed the father’s return application, finding, inter alia that this could lead to the child facing psychological damage. On 13 October 1993, the father appealed to the Supreme Court.