The proceedings concerned a child who was born in the United States of America in August 2008 and adopted shortly thereafter. The adoptive parents had married in 2005. The father was a New Zealand national, the mother South African. Both were naturalised citizens of the United States.
The family moved to New Zealand on 3 December 2009, the purpose of the move was the subject of dispute between the parents. The parents separated in August 2012 but remained living in New Zealand, with the child splitting her time each week between both parents.
The mother’s case was that she, the father and the child would return to Texas in March 2013. The mother had given notice to her employer. On 18 February 2013, the father emailed the mother stating it was his desire that the child stay in New Zealand for her schooling. On 2 April, the mother emptied joint banks accounts and removed the child to the United States. She had previously arranged for her possessions to be shipped to Texas.
The father filed a return petition on 24 April. The application was dismissed by the District Court for the Western District of Texas on 7 June, on the basis that the child had retained her habitual residence in Texas throughout the stay in New Zealand. The father appealed.