Independent Children's Lawyer
Legal Aid NSW provides specialist representation for children in both the family law and care and protection jurisdictions.
In the family law jurisdiction, Independent Children’s Lawyers (ICLs) are usually appointed by the court upon application by one of the parties or of its own motion where one or more of the following circumstances exists:
- There are allegations of abuse or neglect in relation to the children.
- There is a high level of conflict and dispute between the parents.
- There are allegations made as to the views of the children and the children are of a mature age to express their views.
- There are allegations of family violence.
- Serious mental health issues exist in relation to one or both of the parents or children.
- There are difficult and complex issues involved in the matter.
The main functions of the ICL include:
- arranging for necessary evidence, including expert evidence, to be obtained and put before the court
- facilitating the participation of the child in the proceedings in a manner which reflects the age and maturity of the child and the nature of the case
- acting as an honest broker between the child and the parents and facilitating settlement negotiations where appropriate
When orders are made in the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court for the independent representation of a child or children Legal Aid NSW is asked to make arrangements for the assignment of an ICL to the matter.
Legal Aid NSW currently has a large number of in-house solicitors who have completed ICL training through the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia. In addition to the in-house specialist ICLs Legal Aid NSW has a panel of private practitioners who have completed the specialist ICL training and satisfied Legal Aid NSW that they have the appropriate experience and expertise to be included on the ICL panel.
All Legal Aid NSW ICLs are committed to ensuring that children have a meaningful voice in proceedings and that their rights and best interests are protected.