Independent Children's Lawyer
Section 68L of the Family Law Act 1975 gives the Court the power to appoint an Independent Children’s Lawyer (“ICL”) in parenting proceedings.
The role of an ICL is to represent your child or children’s best interests in Court, by presenting information to the Court about your child’s welfare and, if appropriate, their views. The involvement of an ICL can also assist parties to take part in settlement negotiations that are in the child’s best interests and ensure that proper arrangements are made in relation to the children, pending the conclusion of the family law proceedings.
An ICL is not appointed in all parenting matters that come before the Court. ICL’s are often appointed in matters that involve: –
- Allegations of abuse or neglect;
- Allegations of family violence;
- High conflict relationships between parents;
- Serious mental health issues in relation to the parents or the children; or
- Complex issues in dispute between the parents.
Whilst an ICL’s role is to represent your child’s best interests, they do not take instructions from the children who they represent. ICL’s are required to act impartially, and at all times represent the child’s best interests. In coming to a decision or opinion as to what is in the child’s best interests, an ICL may: –
- Speak with the children and obtain their views, including their views about their preferred parenting arrangements;
- Speak with the child/ren’s counsellors, school teachers and/or other professionals involved in the children’s lives;
- Arrange for the child/ren to attend upon an expert for the purpose of obtaining an expert report;
- Arrange for the child/ren to attend counselling; or
- Issue subpoenas or collate other relevant third-party evidence.
It is important to remember that it is not the role of the ICL to be a witness in the parenting proceedings, nor is it their role to act as a child’s counsellor or therapist.
WHERE TO NEXT?
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