The child, a boy, was aged almost 4 1/2 at the date of the alleged wrongful removal.
The parents, both Belgian nationals, had lived in Spain from the time of his birth in 1996. For several years the father had communted between the two countries. It was the mother’s case that the child had always lived with her in Spain until June 2000 when the father took the child to Belgium. The father argued that the child had lived with him in Belgium since 1998 when the separation occurred.
On 19 September 2000 the mother issued a return request with the State prosecutor in Seville on the basis that the father had removed the child in June 2000. On 6 October 2000 the mother applied in Spain for protective measures to be taken in respect of the child. On 29 November 2000 the father seised the tribunal de la jeunesse in Brussels with an application for custody.
On 30 March 2001 the court in Seville awarded custody to the mother but ruled that parental authority should be shared by the parents with regard to all major decisions affecting the child. The father was awarded access. On 22 August 2001 the tribunal de la jeunesse in Brussels stayed the father’s application until the return application had been adjudicated on.