The child, a boy, was 9 at the date of the alleged wrongful retention. In June 1986 the New York Kings County Family Court awarded the parents joint custody, with the mother to have care of the child. The father was given limited, supervised visitation.
In July 1986 the mother took the child to England in violation of the visitation order. The New York court issued a warrant for her arrest. In November 1988 the father began wardship proceedings in the English High Court.
On 26 April 1989 the High Court ordered that the mother have care and control of the boy within the jurisdiction. The father was granted visitation rights. In 1989, after a period of access in the United States, the father refused to return the child.
The mother petitioned for the return of the child.