The proceedings concerned a child born in September 2006 to an Italian father and an American mother. The parents had married before the birth, but had maintained their respective residences in Italy and New York. In 2006 and 2007, the parents visited each other on numerous occasions. In December 2007, they agreed that mother and the child would live primarily in Italy with the father, but return periodically to New York.
Difficulties then arose in the parents’ relationship and in February 2009, the mother took the child to New York and told the father that she wanted a separation.
In May / June 2009 the parents signed a settlement agreement which provided that they would “continue to live separate and apart”, that the mother would “have custody of the minor child”, and that the child would attend school in New York. The settlement agreement also established a visitation schedule, whereby the child would spend at least two months each year in Italy with the father.
After signing the agreement, the mother moved back to Italy in June 2009 to attempt reconciliation with the father. In November 2010, the mother took the child to New York with the intention of not returning to Italy. In December 2010, the parents agreed to make another attempt at reconciliation, and the mother moved back to Italy in January 2011 with the child. The reconciliation was unsuccessful and in August 2011, mother and child returned to New York.
The mother initiated divorce proceedings in New York and, in October 2011, the father initiated return proceedings.
On 30 December 2011, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed the petition for return of the child: Guzzo v. Cristofano, No. 11 Civ. 7394 (RJS), 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149816, 2011 WL 6934108, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 30, 2011). The father appealed.