Independent Children’s Lawyer (ICL)
So your parenting matter is in Court and the Judge has made an Order for an Independent Children’s Lawyer to be appointed in your matter.
What is an Independent Children’s Lawyer (ICL) and why has this Order been made?
Independent Children’s Lawyers, more commonly referred to as ICL’s are independent separate legal representatives who act on behalf of the child or children who are the subject of the Court proceedings and ensure the best interests of the child or children remain paramount. They are typically appointed in serious family law matters where allegations such as family violence, child abuse, child neglect, a high level of parental conflict or alienation has been raised. The Court has the power to appoint an ICL under section 68L of the Family Law Act 1975.
ICL’s are generally funded by Legal Aid, but in some circumstances, parents may be required to financially contribute to the cost of an ICL if they have the income and financial capacity to do so.
So what exactly does an Independent Children’s Lawyer ICL do?
They gather information, coordinate reports, attend mediation and make recommendations to the Court as to what parenting arrangements would be in the best interests of the child or children involved in the litigation. On a practical level, this means they issue subpoenas, make arrangements for family reports and/or psychiatric assessments, consider any expert evidence, and attend any family dispute resolution conferences to ensure the children’s interests are protected and advanced as well as advocating for the children at a final hearing.
ICL’s are usually highly experienced and well-respected family law practitioners. Given their role is to advocate on behalf of children who do not otherwise have a voice in family law proceedings, their views are regarded seriously by the Court and the Court is heavily persuaded by the opinions expressed by the ICL.