What is an Independent Children’s Lawyer (ICL)?

Independent Children's Lawyer

By cropped movement legal

· Read time: 4 minutes

An Independent Children’s Lawyer (ICL) is a legal practitioner who represents the interests of children in family law disputes. 

They are appointed by the court to represent children in cases where there are concerns about the welfare or best interests of the child. 

In this article, we will discuss the guidelines for an Independent Children’s Lawyer, the costs associated with hiring one, the role of an ICL, and what they consider to determine what is in the child’s best interests.

Independent Children’s Lawyer Guidelines

The role of an Independent Children’s Lawyer is governed by the Family Law Act 1975. The Act sets out the guidelines and principles that the ICL must follow when representing a child’s interests. 

The ICL must act independently and make decisions that are in the child’s best interests. 

The ICL is also required to provide the court with an impartial view of what is best for the child, even if it is not what the child wants.

The ICL is required to communicate with the child in a manner appropriate to the child’s age and level of understanding. The ICL must also consider the views of the child, the child’s relationship with each parent, and any other relevant factors.

Independent Children’s Lawyer Costs

The costs of an Independent Children’s Lawyer vary depending on the complexity of the case and the amount of work required. 

The court may order one or both parties to pay for the ICL’s fees, or the fees may be shared between the parties. 

The cost of an ICL can be significant, and it is essential to discuss the costs with the lawyer before engaging their services.

What exactly is the role of a Independent Children’s Lawyer

The role of an ICL is to represent the child’s interests in family law disputes. 

The ICL is appointed by the court and is responsible for conducting an independent investigation of the case. 

The ICL will meet with the child, the child’s parents, and any other relevant parties, such as teachers or doctors.

The ICL is responsible for making recommendations to the court about what is in the child’s best interests. 

The ICL may also be required to attend court and provide evidence on behalf of the child.

What Does an ICL Consider to Determine What is in the Child’s Best Interests?

The ICL will consider a range of factors when determining what is in the child’s best interests. These factors may include:

  • The child’s views and wishes
  • The child’s relationship with each parent and any other significant person in their life
  • The child’s age and level of maturity
  • The child’s cultural background
  • The child’s safety and welfare
  • The ability of each parent to provide for the child’s emotional and physical needs

The ICL will also consider any other factors that are relevant to the child’s circumstances.

Independent Children’s Lawyer FAQS

Why Does a Child Need Their Own Lawyer?

A child may need their own lawyer if they are involved in a family law dispute and their interests are not being adequately represented by either parent. 

The child’s lawyer can ensure that their views and wishes are heard and that their interests are protected.

Who Pays for an ICL?

The court may order one or both parties to pay for the ICL’s fees, or the fees may be shared between the parties. It is important to discuss the costs of an ICL with the lawyer before engaging their services.

How Does the ICL Present Their Findings in Court?

The ICL may be required to attend court and provide evidence on behalf of the child. 

The ICL will present their findings to the court in a written report, which outlines their recommendations for what is in the child’s best interests.

What is a Family Report/Single Expert Report?

A family report, also known as a single expert report, is a report that is prepared by an independent expert, such as a psychologist or social worker, who is appointed by the court to provide an assessment of the child’s best interests. 

The expert will typically interview the child, both parents, and any other relevant parties, such as teachers or doctors. 

The report will then provide recommendations to the court about what is in the child’s best interests, taking into account a range of factors such as the child’s wishes, the relationship between the child and their parents, and the child’s safety and welfare. 

The report is used by the court to make decisions about parenting arrangements and other matters related to the child’s welfare.

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