At the heart of family law policy is that the children’s best interests are protected in any parental dispute. One way that legislation provides for this is through the use of an Independent Children’s Lawyer (ICL). The Court appoints an ICL and their role is to represent the children’s best interests and they can be ordered to find out the child’s views on the matter to which the proceedings relate.
Who can request an Independent Children’s Lawyer be appointed to a case?
Section 68L of the Family Law Act 1975 allows for the Court to appoint an ICL on the application of:
- a child,
- an organisation concerned with the welfare of children or
- any other person, to represent and promote the best interests of a child in family law proceedings.
When will the Court appoint an ICL without application by one of the parties?
When more of the following circumstances exist the Court will often appoint an ICL:
How does the ICL determine what is in the children’s best interests?
What is a family report and do I need one?
If required, a family report may be organised by the independent children’s lawyer or ordered by the Court. This is an independent report prepared by a Court appointed family consultant to assist the judge to make decisions about the child/ren or the parties to reach an agreement.
Who pays the costs of the ICL?
The Legal Aid Authority in the state or territory where court proceedings are being heard will normally pay most of the costs associated with the appointment of the ICL. However, the court also has the power to make an order that one or both parties contribute to the costs of the ICL, based on their individual financial capacity.