What is an Independent Children’s Lawyer

What is an Independent Children’s Lawyer (ICL) and why has one been appointed?

An Independent Children’s Lawyer or ICL is a specially trained solicitor who is appointed for the sole purpose of representing the best interests of the child or children in the proceedings.

An ICL is typically appointed by the court upon an application by one of the parties in circumstances where one or more of the following conditions exist:

  • There are allegations of family violence;
  • There is a significant amount of conflict between the parents;
  • Allegations have been made as to abuse and/or neglect of the child or children;
  • There are complex issues involved in the matter;
  • One or both of the parents or children suffer from serious mental health issues;
  • The children are of a mature age to express their views;

What is the Role of the Independent Children’s Lawyer?

The role of the Independent Children’s Lawyer is set out in section 68L of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) in that the role of the Independent Children’s Lawyer is to represent and promote the best interests of the child or children and ensure that they are the focus of any decisions about parenting arrangements.

 

Do I Have to Pay the Independent Children’s Lawyers Fess?

The fees of the Independent Children’s Lawyer are covered by the Legal Services Commission however, the Independent Children’s Lawyer is required under current Commonwealth Family Law Funding Guidelines to seek a contribution towards their costs from each of the parties. Where a party is the recipient of a grant of legal aid funding this requirement may be waived or varied at the discretion of the Legal Services Commission.

 

Is the Independent Children’s Lawyer Going to Take Sides?

The Independent Children’s Lawyer will not take sides per se but may support the application of one of the parties if they believe that it is in the best interests of the child or children. The Independent Children’s Lawyer will typically communicate with the parties through their solicitors unless a party is self-represented, in which case they will communicate in writing with that party.

 

When an Independent Children’s Lawyer is Appointed do they Get the Final Say?

The Independent Children’s Lawyer ultimately has no more power over the matter than the solicitors for the parties. They do not have the power to decide where the children will live or who they will spend time with, the only person with the authority to make these decisions is the Judge, unless the parties can reach agreement as to the care arrangements. Although the Independent Children’s Lawyer will make recommendations as to who the children should live with or how much time they should spend with a certain parent, these are recommendations only and the Judge is not necessarily bound by those recommendations.

tony
tony@adelaidefamilylawyers.com.au