The child, a girl, was 1 _ years old at the date of the alleged wrongful removal. She had lived in Italy all her life. Her parents were married and exercised joint rights of custody up until the removal.
In January 1999 the parents had an argument which led the mother to leave the family home with the child. On 15 January a mutual friend informed the mother that the father had given his permission for her to take the child to the United States provided that she sign a document. However, when the mother later spoke with the father concerning her intention to leave, he threatened to go to the police. A violent argument ensued, and that evening the father filed a report of the incident with the police.
On 16 January the father went to a family court in Rome to find out what steps he could take to prevent the mother from leaving the country with their daughter. He was told to put the child’s name in a passport register to prohibit her removal from the country. This he did.
However, that same day the mother took the child to the United States via the United Kingdom without the father’s knowledge. She sent him a postcard from the Italian airport stating that she did not intend to deny him access to their daughter after she had left the country. On 21 January 1999 the mother petitioned for divorce in Illinois.
On 11 February 1999 the father requested a formal separation from the mother as well as custody of the child in a Rome court. His separation petition was granted on 27 July 1999 and the court accorded the mother temporary custody of the child pending an evaluation of the fitness of the mother and father as parents. On 22 June 1999 the father petitioned for the return of the child.