The children, a girl and a boy, were 5 1/3 and 3 1/3 on the date of the alleged wrongful removal. They had lived in both Canada and the United States. The parents were married and had joint rights of custody. On 18 January 1996 the mother took the children to Canada, her State of origin.
On 22 January 1996 the mother initiated custody proceedings in Quebec. On 7 February the Superior Court of California ordered the mother to return the children by 7 March. On 22 February a court in Quebec awarded the mother provisional custody. The father contested the jurisdiction of the court.
On 7 March the California Superior Court awarded interim custody to the father. The father applied to the Superior Court of Quebec for the return of the children.