The proceedings concerned a child who was three years old at the time of the appellate hearing. The parents, both of Indian ethnicity, had entered into an arranged marriage two years before the birth of the child. The family lived in Canada. The mother was a United States citizen.
During a family visit to India in early 2011, the mother complained to the Indian police of domestic abuse. The father was charged and his passport confiscated. In April 2011, whilst he was unable to leave India, the mother (pregnant at the time with a second child), flew to the United States of America with the first child. The second child was subsequently born in the United States of America.
When the father’s passport was returned he flew back to Canada and in February 2012 petitioned for the return of the first child. On 7 March 2012, the father obtained an ex parte order from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois requiring the mother to hand over custody of the child pending resolution of the return petition.
On 23 March, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ordered the return of the child, subject to an undertaking that the father pay a retainer for the mother to engage a lawyer in Canada. The mother appealed and the return order was stayed. On 1 May, the Court of Appeals ordered that the child be returned to the mother. The passports of the mother and child were to be held by the US Marshalls Service.