The child, a boy, was 3 1/2 at the date of the alleged wrongful retention. He was born in Sweden to a Swedish mother and British father. The parents never married but 2 months after the child was born they entered into a formal written agreement (“Bekraftelse”) in which they confirmed the child’s paternity and agreed that they would share custody.
The parents separated in May 1996. Thereafter the child lived with the mother and had contact with his father who remained in Sweden. In July 1998 the mother decided to complete a one-year art course. This involved spending nine months in Barcelona, Spain, and three months in Winchester, England. The parents agreed that the child would live with his father during this period.
The mother left for Barcelona in September 1998. She had contact with the child both in Barcelona and in Sweden. In mid-March 1999, with the mother’s agreement, the father took the child to Wales.
On 6 April 1999 the mother visited the child, she then drove back to Sweden with the father and the child. After a few days the mother returned to Barcelona while the child remained in Sweden, staying partly with his maternal grandmother and partly with his father. At the end of May 1999 the father and child went back to Wales.
In mid-June 1999 the mother finished her course in Barcelona and went to Sweden to collect some possessions belonging to herself and the child before going to Wales. After a few days she commenced her course in Winchester.
In mid-July the parents had a disagreement over the custody of the child. This led to various court proceedings in England and Wales in which both parents participated and were represented. At this stage the mother was unaware of the Hague Convention. She subsequently sought alternative representation in London and commenced Convention proceedings for the return of the child.