Go to content

Policy Bulletin 2023 / 1 (Family law policy: Funding for Independent Children’s Lawyers)

9 Jan 2023

The Legal Aid NSW Board has approved new policies for funding Independent Children’s Lawyers in Commonwealth family law matters.


Historically, Legal Aid NSW has provided funding for an Independent Children’s Lawyer (ICL) where a court makes an order for the independent representation of a child’s interests in Commonwealth family law matters. However, the number of orders for ICL appointments has increased significantly in recent years and this increase has not been matched by an increase in funding. The additional costs associated with funding the new processes associated with the establishment of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia has meant that Legal Aid NSW is unable to continue funding all ICLs without restrictions.

The Legal Aid NSW Board has therefore decided to introduce clear policies around when Legal Aid NSW will fund ICLs.  The new policies will manage demand while ensuring the best interests of children in our most vulnerable families are protected in family law proceedings.

What has changed?

The circumstances where Legal Aid NSW will fund an ICL in parenting matters include where:

  • the child is Aboriginal,
  • there are allegations of child abuse, child neglect or domestic and family violence,
  • there are issues of significant medical, psychiatric or psychological illness or personality disorder in relation to either party or a child or other person having significant contact with the child,
  • the material filed by the parents indicates that neither parent seems a suitable carer for the child,
  • there is an application in the court’s welfare jurisdiction relating in particular to the medical treatment of the child, or
  • Legal Aid NSW is satisfied that in the exceptional circumstances of the matter the participatory needs of the child can only be addressed by the appointment of an ICL.

Legal Aid NSW will continue to fund ICLs in all matters concerning a special medical procedure that goes beyond the scope of parental responsibility.

Where can I find the changes?

The details of the policies on when Legal Aid NSW will fund an Independent Children’s Lawyer are published on Policy Online – Family Law Matters:

The Guideline for ICLs in relation to seeking costs orders and funding for final hearing is published on Policy Online: Family Law Guideline 2.4 Independent Children’s Lawyers

Commencement date

The policy change applies to requests that Legal Aid NSW receives from the court for the independent representation of a child after 9 January 2023.

Contact for further information

Client Eligibility Unit at: T-CEU@legalaid.nsw.gov.au.