The proceedings concerned a child born in Australia in August 2006, to an Australian father and a Maori (New Zealand) mother. The parents, who were not married, had a volatile relationship. They separated in the latter part of 2008, agreeing that the child would live with the mother during the week and with the father at weekends. The child was diagnosed as displaying behaviour indicative of the lower end of the Autistic Spectrum Disorder, which was possibly Asperger’s Syndrome.
In June 2009, the mother obtained a protection order against the father. The former family home was sold in August 2009. On 14 October 2009, after several weekends of contact occurring as per the parenting agreement, the mother took the child to New Zealand. The father petitioned for the return of the child.
On 17 June 2010, the Family Court, New Plymouth ruled that the removal of the child was wrongful and that none of the exceptions of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention was applicable. The Family Court initially deferred making a return order to allow for practical arrangements to be put in place to facilitate the voluntary return of mother and child.
The mother appealed, pursuing the same arguments raised in the Family Court. Once the appeal was filed a formal return order was issued to avoid any procedural difficulties.