The children, two girls, were 1_ and 3_ at the time of the alleged wrongful retention. The parents were married and had joint rights of custody. The family lived in the United States. In August 1993 the mother told the father that she wanted a divorce and to move to Denmark. The parents separated and the mother and the children moved to Denmark in September 1993 with the consent of the father.
In October 1993 the father came to Denmark for 2_ months. During this time he applied for a residence permit to allow him to work. He had unsupervised access to the children during his stay and had telephone contact after he left. However, on 14 January 1994 the United States Central Authority sent an application for the return of the children.
On 4 March 1994 a Danish county court ordered the return of the children. It found that the mother’s retention of the children was in breach of the father’s rights of custody under American law. The mother appealed.