What is an ICL?
Commonly referred to as the “ICL”, the Independent Children’s Lawyer may be appointed in court proceedings about a parenting dispute, if appropriate.
When does an ICL become involved?
Generally, ICL’s are appointed by the court if the children are of an age where their views may carry some weight; or the proceedings involve allegations of: abuse or neglect towards the children, family violence, a high level of conflict between the parents, substance abuse, mental health issues of either parent, or any other difficult or complex issues are in dispute.
What is the role of the ICL?
The ICL advocates for the children’s best interests, independently to that of each parent. The ICL reports to the court their views about relevant arrangements and decisions. Based on the circumstances of each case the ICL usually:
- assists in negotiations by making suggestions to progress or settle the matter;
- reviews and considers the evidence filed by the parents plus documents produced from organisations including schools, Department of Communities and Justice, police, medical and other health professionals.
- gathering additional evidence, including hearing from the children themselves (if appropriate, noting the children’s age and maturity), parents and / or their lawyers.
- helps with management of the litigation, including recommendation of suitable experts to provide opinions at the appropriate stages; and
- participates in the family law proceedings, testing the evidence through questioning the parents and the experts.
Who pays for the ICL?
ICL’s are funded by Legal Aid NSW. Legal Aid usually seeks reimbursement of their associated costs with respect to representing the child. Costs may be ordered to be shared equally. In circumstances where one parent cannot afford the costs, then their portion of the costs may be waived.
For detailed information about the ICL scale of fees (costs recovery) please refer to the Legal Aid NSW website below: