What Is An Independent Children’s Lawyer? – Podcast Episode 24

This week on the Divorce Collective Podcast, Senior Associate Dannielle Young breaks down the common question of what is an Independent Children’s Lawyer?

What is an independent children’s lawyer?

An Independent Children’s Lawyer (“ICL”) usually and frequently pops up in relation to family matters before the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. An ICL is a solicitor appointed by the court to represent your child or children. They aren’t like a lawyer that an adult would have, there is no sitting in a formal office and they aren’t giving the ICL instructions to write material, etc. It is a very different relationship. Sometimes the ICL will meet the children, and sometimes they won’t. An ICL is always a highly qualified practitioner who has practiced family law over many years, as well as having extensive experience with disputes involving children in the courts.

When would an Independent Children’s Lawyer be appointed?

Just because your case before the court is about parenting, that does not automatically mean that your case will have an ICL appointed to it. Either party to a parenting matter can apply to the court for the appointment of an ICL, or the court might make an order for one on its own. In all cases where an ICL is appointed, one or more of the following circumstances have to exist:

  • Allegations of abuse or neglect in relation to the child/ren which can be physical, sexual, or psychological;
  • High level of conflict and dispute between the parents;
  • Allegations of domestic violence;
  • Serious mental health issues that exist for both or one of the parents or in relation to the child/ren;
  • Strong wishes that the child may have;
  • One party seeks to relocate which significantly affects the time spent with the other parent;
  • Where it is proposed to separate siblings.

These are some of the circumstances where an ICL will be appointed to the matter.

What is the role of an Independent Children’s Lawyer?

An ICL has the role to form an independent view that is within the best interest of the child before the court. They are usually employed by the offices of Legal Aid QLD or the state in which the dispute has taken place and are usually funded by the Legal Aid office. However, a disclaimer to that – depending on a party’s financial position, they may be asked or ordered to pay some cost of the ICL, subject to individual finance and the case which are all assessed by Legal Aid.

An ICL is there to have a role in the proceedings that will assist the court in making determinations in relation to parenting matters. It is their role to act in the best interest of their children. Primarily, they are there to ensure that all the evidence is put before the court that is relevant to the determination of the matter.

To find out more about independent children’s lawyers, and how they may affect your family law matter, listen up!

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