The child, a girl, was 7 2/3 at the date of the alleged wrongful retention. The parents were divorced. A shuttle custody arrangement was established whereby the child would continually move between Sweden and the United States and the custody of her mother and father every few years.
The parties also included a clause that the Commonwealth of Virginia would have exclusive jurisdiction to determine all matters relating to the custody of the child. The parties also stipulated that they would be bound by the terms of the Hague Convention.
In accordance with the agreement the child was due to return to the United States, after two years in Sweden, on 21 August 1995. The mother however refused to return the child. The father initiated a return petition.
On 6 October 1995 the County Administrative Court ordered the return of the child. On 19 December this decision was upheld by the Administrative Court of Appeals. The mother appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court.