It is not uncommon in circumstances where matters involving the care and custody of children that the Court will appoint what is known as an Independent Children’s Lawyer (“ICL”).

The appointment of the ICL is made generally in circumstances where the parents are involved in high conflict with each other or there are allegations of child abuse made by one parent against the other.

The reasons for appointing an Independent children’s lawyer is set out in a 1994 court case called “Re K”. This case says that the reasons for appointing an independent children’s lawyer include:

  • Where someone has said there has been child abuse.
  • If the parents cannot agree on any issues.
  • The child is not speaking to one or both parents.
  • There are cultural or religious differences affecting the child.
  • The sexual preferences of one or both parents are likely to affect the child’s welfare.
  • One or both of the parents or another person who is significant in the child’s life behaves in a way that is anti-social and may affect the child’s welfare.
  • One or both of the parents, or a significant person or the child has a significant medical, psychiatric, psychological illness or personality disorder.
  • Neither of the parents seems to be suitable to look after the child.
  • The child is mature and has strong views which may change a long standing arrangement (such as who the child lives with or refusing to spend time with a parent or other person).
  • One parent wants to move away with the child where this will greatly reduce the time the child spends with the other parent.
  • It is planned to separate brothers and sisters.
  • None of the parties has a lawyer.
  • Where there is an application regarding the medical treatment of a child where one of the parties is not properly managing the child’s medical treatment.

An independent children’s lawyer is not always appointed in a case where the circumstances are similar to one or more of the above circumstances and there may be other reasons why an independent children’s lawyer might be appointed.

Ultimately, the court will decide whether an independent children’s lawyer is needed in your case.

The role of the ICL is to be independent and impartial and to represent the best interests of the child.

They are relied upon by the Judicial officer to present the facts in each situation and to act as an honest broker and to assist where possible the parties in reach agreement.

If you require further information about ICL’s contact us on 8999 1800