The children, both boys, were 5 1/3 and 3 at the date of the alleged wrongful removal. They had lived in France all of their lives. The parents were not married.
In February 1991 the mother left the home with the children and took them to a women’s refuge. The father applied for parental authority and a court welfare officer’s report was requested. The French court adjourned the father’s application for parental authority but afforded him staying access.
On 6 May 1991 the physical care of the children passed from mother to father after the mother twice tried to commit suicide. On 26 May 1991 the mother wrote a letter authorising the father’s care.
The father’s application for parental authority was adjourned three times for reports. Consent orders were made which recited the essential change in the children’s care.
On 20 January 1992, prior to a scheduled hearing before the Tribunal de Grande Instance at Strasbourg on 23 January, the father took the children to England. His lawyer wrote to the French court stating that the father had moved to England for professional reasons and that access by the mother would be arranged in France and England.
On 14 May 1992 the French court found that the father had unilaterally decided to leave France, refused to grant his application for parental authority and ordered him to return the children to the mother.
On 9 October 1992 the mother applied for a return order under the Convention.