Blog post by Genevieve Smit
In the context of Family Court proceedings, the pressure on children to ‘pick a side’ in their parents’ disagreement can often be heightened. As a result, it may be appropriate for children to be provided with the opportunity to express their views in circumstances that are free from the influence of others. Independent Children’s Lawyers Representing Children In The Family Court (ICL’s) are lawyers who are appointed to represent children in parenting proceedings.
Essentially, the ICL’s role is to determine what is in the child’s best interests, taking into account all the relevant facts and circumstances of the particular case.
ICLs are appointed for the purpose of representing children and, as a result, they need to remain independent of all the other parties to the relevant proceedings. They also need to establish a professional relationship of trust and respect with the child.
How are ICLs appointed?
The Family Court may appoint an ICL where it considers the relevant child’s best interests need to be represented independently of his or her parents (or other parties involved in the proceedings).
ICLs can be appointed by the Family Court, or subject to an application from the child, a child welfare organisation, or any other person.
When are ICLs appointed?
ICLs may be appointed in various circumstances, including (but not limited to) where:
- There are allegations of child abuse.
- There is a high level of conflict between the child’s parents.
- Cultural or religious differences between the child’s parents are affecting the resolution of parenting issues.
- It may not be appropriate for the child’s parents to have parental responsibility for the child.
- The parents (or other person(s) concerned with the care and welfare of the child) engage in conduct that may negatively impact the child.
- A child’s parents disagree regarding medical treatment a child should receive.
ICL’s role in proceedings
As mentioned previously, Independent Children’s Lawyers Representing Children In The Family Court have their best interests in mind.
The ICL will determine what is in a child’s best interests with reference to the particular facts and circumstances of the particular case, and may, in some situations, seek orders that are contrary to the child’s wishes on the basis that they better serve the child’s best interests.
Independent Children’s Lawyers will only be removed from proceedings in limited circumstances including:
- Where the ICL fails to represent and act in the child’s best interests; or
- Where a conflict of interest arises.
Contact the family lawyers at Culshaw Miller in Perth today for more information.
Perth: (08) 9488 1300 or email.