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advice on my current 50/50 arrangement

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any advice welcome

My son is 14 and has recently out of the blue, gone to school and not returned home to me. Instead sent a text to me saying he needed to go back to his fathers to complete an assignment. I agreed and said ill pick you up at 8pm, the next message was, im living with dad now full time…..i dropped my mobile !!
I have a 50/50 shared care agreement that we have been using since my son was 7 with little disruption to his schooling and social and family life as possible.
He now isnt communicating with me at all, i have not engaged in any form of disappointment with my son as i have fear he might not come back home. His father is in an unstable relationship that my son would talk to me about all the time, so im bewildered to why he would make such a decision. I feel he might have been influenced by his father to make such a decision with out talking to me about it first…..Im not sure what my options legally are?
My question is at what age can a child in a court ordered agreement make up his own mind to make such changers??? Does he have the right at such a young age???
He is old enough to leave home go to Centrelink and claim benefits and support etc…. In many cases once the child is confident and able to use their legs to decide where they want to live there is little the court or anyone can do about it.

All I can suggest is that you get some counseling and work on having the best relationship you can with your son. If he cares for you he will come back to you.
energy007 said
I have a 50/50 shared care agreement
I presume this just an agreement rather than consent orders?

In either case there is no specific age when a court will determine a child being competent to make their own choices. A court would assess the child & make a determination based on their assessment on a case by case basis. That said even if you went down the court path & it decided to rule a 50/50 there is nothing to stop the child walking out your front door the very next day. Police won't get involved regardless of whether you have orders or not & the child will resent you for over controlling him. Don't waste your money.

My advice, which is based on my son walking out when he was 12 to be with his mother 100% over 12 months ago, is to stay connected & interested in your son & let him know that he will always be welcome in your life & when he ready he will reach out for you in some way. I took to writing him a brief letter every 2 weeks. The letters were very simple, non confrontational and quite general in nature. I asked about things he was doing, told him what was happening in my life as well as dropping in 1 paragraph reminiscing a good time that he & I had when we all lived together to remind him that there was a time when he thought I was an OK kind of dad to be around. I didn't mention his mother or say anything derogatory in any way nor did I plead with him to spend time with me. At the end of each letter I'd sign off telling him I loved him, that I missed & reminded him that he would always be welcome to spend time with me when he wanted.

I also made a point of going to see him play football every 2 weeks, making sure that he saw me without getting in his way or smothering him. I also mentioned his games in my letters as it was something new about him on which we could converse.

The first 2 letters got very fiery responses including a typed letter from his mother telling me that he didn't want anything to do with me (my solicitor was pleased to get something in writing of this nature)…but then after my 3rd & 4th letter gentle contact started. He rang me a few times, asked if he could come over for dinner and we generally started communicating. Its been that way now for 3 months and week by week he opens up more. It will take more time but I think he will be back in my care at least some of the time by years end.

I still send a letter every 2 weeks & some weeks I get warm responses, others I get nothing, but I no longer get the anger & bitterness from him & I talk with him each week on the phn (when his mother permits him to answer it).

Also remember that he is 14 & stepping onto the bridge of adolescence (thanks to Celia Lashlie), and soon he will know everything, hate everyone, and be close to no one and that this behaviour is nothing to do with you and all to do with him.

My advice is to show your son that you are & will always be interested in his life. It's a big almost unwinnable battle to fight alienation from outside, but in your own way stay on message with him about what you think of him, that you love him & that he is important to you & with the passage of time, and yes it will take time so be patient, you could well find he will come to you.

"I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realise that what you heard is not what I meant."

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