The child, a boy, was 2 1/2 at the date of the alleged wrongful removal. He had lived in the United States of America all of his life. The parents were divorced and had joint legal rights of custody; the mother was designated as the child’s primary care-giver.
On 20 April 1993 the mother was granted an order permitting her to take the child to New Zealand to visit her family. She did not return.
On 8 June 1993 the mother’s solicitors wrote to the father stating that she did not intend to return. On the same day she filed proceedings for custody in the Family Court in New Zealand. On 15 June 1993 the court heard the mother’s custody application and ordered that the child not be removed from the jurisdiction.
On 23 June 1993 the Superior Court in Modesto, California found that the mother was in violation of their previous order. The Child Abduction Unit attached to the California District Attorney’s office then commenced proceedings on behalf of the father.