What is the role of an Independent Children’s Lawyer?
An independent Children’s Lawyer (ICL) represents the best interests of a child and makes sure that this is the focus of any decisions regarding parenting arrangements.
This is important because at times parents may be overwhelmed with the legal process and lose focus of the child’s best interest.
How is the Independent Children’s Lawyer Appointed?
Under the Family Law Act, the court can appoint an ICL in cases where they believe it would benefit the welfare of the child.
An organisation or individual concerned with the welfare and best interest of the child can also apply to the court to have an ICL appointed to the case. In this application, the court must be told why an ICL is important to the case.
Applications for an ICL will usually be successful when one of more of the following circumstances exist:
- There are allegations of abuse or neglect in relation to the child.
- There is a high level of conflict between the parents.
- There are allegations of family violence.
- One or both of the parents experience serious mental health issues.
- There are difficult and complex issues involved in the case.
What does the Independent Children’s Lawyer do in the Legal Process?
The ICL will make submissions to the court relating to parenting matters and present information to the court about a child’s welfare and views.
Before making these submissions, the ICL will generally do the following:
- Read all the materials that have been filed by both parents
- Read any Orders that have been made and reports that may have been written
- Request material from relevant organisations such as the Family and Community Services and read these relevant materials.
- Interview the child if appropriate
- Talk to individuals such as family consultants, school teachers, child care workers, doctors, psychologists or counsellors.
- Facilitate negotiations between the parents.
After taking these steps, the ICL will present in evidence in court. In addition, they will also make submissions and cross examine the parents when it is appropriate to do so.
It is also important to remember that although the child’s wishes are always taken into account, the ICL will only seek orders from the court that they believe are in the best interests of the child. This may not always be what the child wants.
For further information on the role of the ICL and the court process, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The article is written for information purposes only. It is not intended to replace specific legal advice for your situation. Should you require any further information contact us on 02 8999 1800 or email email@example.com