Why are Independent Children’s Lawyers Appointed and What Do they Do?
There are some cases in the Family Court where an Independent Children’s Lawyer (ICL) needs to be appointed. These cases have a high level of conflict between the parents or there are significant risks to the child such as allegations of abuse, neglect, family violence or serious mental health issues exist in relation to one or both of the parents or children.
Generally, the cases where difficult and complex issues are involved, the Court ensures that the child’s views and best interests are to be heard independently by a separate party/lawyer.
ICL’s have specialist ICL training and have appropriate experience and expertise to be appointed. Most of their work is funded by Legal Aid NSW; however, the parties must share the expenses of a reduced fee.
So, what do they do? The ICL has a duty to be up to date on the case and read all the evidence such as affidavits, applications and subpoenaed documents. They also communicate with the parties, the child/children (dependent on age) and the family consultants or experts or any relevant people including teachers, doctors, psychologists or counsellors. The ICL will also look at relevant case law and legislation that is relevant to the matter.
With this evidence and information, the ICL then must make an independent recommendation to the Court, advising the best interests of the child/children and to also make the Court aware of any views expressed by your child/children. During their appointment, the ICL also seeks that proper arrangements are made ensuring the child’s best interests are met and encourages and takes part in negotiations between the parties
While the ICL is there to represent the child/children, their recommendation to the Court is not paramount – the judge will hear all sides from the parties and will make their decision based on all the evidence provided.
Disclaimer: This is not legal advice, please contact us on 8999 1800 if you have any questions regarding the role of an ICL.