Horst Zaunegger had a daughter. He was not married to the mother. When the couple separated, Mr Zaunegger was refused joint custody of their child. This was because, as the couple had not been married, joint custody could only be granted if the mother agreed to it, or if the child’s well-being was threatened.
Mr Zaunegger applied to the Strasbourg court, claiming that the law amounted to unjustified discrimination and breached his right to family life.