The child, a boy, was approximately two years old at the date of the alleged wrongful removal. The parents, Italian citizens, were not married. They had been living in Germany.
The parents decided to separate and after the mother left the family residence, the father took the child to Italy and left him with the paternal grandmother. According to the father, the mother had abandoned the child. The mother maintained however that the father had forced her to leave the family home and had prevented her from seeing the child.
The mother then issued proceedings in Germany and return proceedings in Italy.
The German court seised of the case granted exclusive custody to the mother and ordered the immediate return of the child to Germany. It based its jurisdiction over the case on article 1 of the 1961 Hague Convention, the habitual residence of the child in Germany, and the habitual residence of both parents in Germany.
Neither party challenged the court’s jurisdiction. The German court applied the law of the child’s nationality, in particular, article 317 bis of the Italian Civil Code, in deciding that it was in the child’s best interests to remain with his mother, as he had always had a closer relationship with her than with his father.