The child, a girl, was nearly 7 years old at the date of the alleged wrongful removal. She had lived in Venezuela all her life. Her parents were not married, but had intermittently lived together with the child. At the date of the child’s removal, the trial court found that they had been living together as a family for 10 months.
On 27 April 2001 the mother took the child to school and did not return with her. On 3 May the father discovered that the mother had taken the child to Florida.
On 24 / 25 June the mother called the father and invited him to visit her and the girl in Florida. On 28 June the father arrived at the meeting place designated by the mother, only to be served by Florida police officers with a temporary injunction for protection against domestic violence which had been obtained by the mother.
On 9 July a Florida state court dismissed the domestic violence claims because of lack of jurisdiction. The father then returned to Venezuela without having seen the child. He then initiated proceedings there to determine his custody rights over the girl.
A Venezuelan Superior Court dismissed his petition, finding that he did not have any such rights over his daughter. However, a Venezuelan Court of Appeals reversed this decision and remitted the case to the Superior Court.
Having hired a private investigator, the father discovered the whereabouts of his daughter in late December 2001. He then petitioned for her return.