Living arrangements of a 14 year old

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27 March 2019
Good morning,

I hope someone can assist me with the following:

  • A relocation order has been sought by the mother to relocate with 3 teenagers interstate (11, 13 and 15) - the father has not agreed to this (initiating application by mother, response by father done)
  • prior to separation, there was equal shared care in a usual household (both parents working), parents are married, both parents heavily involved with all kids, no issues of DV
  • the current care arrangement is 5 nights with the father and 9 nights with the mother. Father reluctantly agreed to that over a year ago as mother threatened to make urgent legal application etc.
  • current arrangement is working but kids want 50:50, so does the father, mother wants to relocate interstate with kids and have them full time but with equal parental responsibility.
  • have been to court twice now, still no outcome. Judge not looking upon relocation request from mother too kindly but no clear messages.
  • family meeting was done with psychologist and report has been written - has been before court again and judge stated report was inconclusive and judge also said that they wouldn't rule a 15 year old to relocate if they didn't want to (this was clearly stated in the family report as this is what the 15 year old said). The 13 year old does not wish to move as they don't want to be apart from the 15 year old sibling.
  • next court date is to sort finances mid-year and another court date is set for end of year - all taking very long
Here is my question:

The 15 year old is extremely unhappy and wants to live with one parent only (father), however, would likely be happy with 50:50 in the meantime. He does have some (teenage) issues with the mother, nothing that would warrant any external input but he is not comfortable with the current 5/9 night arrangement and prefers to be with the father.

What can he do - can he tell his mother that he wants to live with the father 50:50 and she can't do anything about it or, given that the court proceedings are still ongoing, although no interim order was made, the arrangement should stay as is? How would this look on the father if he took the teenager 50:50, facilitated adequate access and even tried to improve the relationship between child and mother? Given that there is no legal custody order for one of the parents and no other legal orders as to where the children should live, theoretically, the 15 year old could move to a 50:50 arrangement and the mother would have to put in another urgent order to appeal that situation but she likely would not have good grounds for it (as was also evident in the family report where it was stated that she didn't want 50:50 because of the different parenting styles which may not be in the best interest of the children - this was knocked on the head by the psychologist in the report)??

Could the father in the meantime make another interim application, asking the court to rule for the 15 year old to stay with the father 50:50 as this is the child's wish?

Also, I wonder how this would impact on the other kids as they also want 50:50 but are currently happy with the arrangement but the 13 year old is very close to the oldest sibling who desperately wants the 50:50 arrangement.

Thank you for your help!