Independent Children's Lawyers

An Independent Children's Lawyer (ICL) is a lawyer appointed by the Family Court of WA to represent a child's best interests in a family law case.

The ICL's role is to present information to the court about your child's welfare and views. The ICL may make recommendations to the court about what parenting orders would be in the best interests of the child. 

This information will help you to understand the role of the ICL. Find out:

  • what an ICL does
  • how an ICL can be appointed
  • how you can help your children if an ICL is appointed, and
  • what you can do if you think an ICL has acted improperly.

What does an Independent Children's Lawyer do?

What the ICL does will be different in each case but they will make sure that the court receives all necessary information about the child's welfare. The ICL may collect information about the parties and your child and present this information to the court. For example, the ICL may get information about your child from their school. 

After considering all the evidence in the case and any views expressed by the child, the ICL may recommend orders to the court. 

An ICL will usually meet with a child and inform the court of the child's views. Whether the ICL will meet with your child is a decision for the ICL. An ICL will usually meet with a child unless:

  • your child is under school age (but may still choose to in some cases)
  • there are exceptional circumstances (for example, an ongoing police investigation), or
  • there are practical difficulties with meeting with your child (for example, the child lives in a remote location).
What can I do to help my children if an ICL is appointed?

You can help your children by:

  • making sure they attend all appointments arranged by the ICL
  • allowing your child to freely contact the ICL and talk in private, and
  • not asking your child about what they said to the ICL. 

When will an Independent Children's Lawyer be appointed?

The Family Court of WA can decide to appoint an ICL in a parenting case. This could be because the case involves:

  • allegations of family violence, child abuse or neglect
  • a high level of conflict and dispute between the parents
  • a parent or child with serious medical or mental health issues, or
  • difficult and complex issues.

What if I'm unhappy with the ICL?

ICL's are appointed in complex cases where parents have been unable to agree on what is in the best interests of their child. What an ICL does, and what they think is in the child's best interests, may not always meet with the approval of the parents or the child. This does not mean that the ICL has acted inappropriately or failed in their professional responsibilities.

The first step if you believe the ICL is not performing his or her professional responsibilities is to get legal advice about your situation. 

You have the following options:

  • Make an application to the Family Court of WA for the ICL's removal. You should speak to your lawyer about this (if you have one), or
  • Make a complaint to the Legal Professional Complaints Committee (LPCC) that an ICL is not discharging his or her professional obligations. The LPCC's main role is to ensure ethical conduct and professional behaviour in the legal profession.
  • Make a complaint to Legal Aid WA who may be able to investigate some aspects of the ICL's conduct. 

 

More information

National Legal Aid
Best for Kids - What happens when your parents go to court?
  • Posters and interactive videos to help explain the role of an Independent Children's Lawyer.
For children under 10: Poster Video
For children over 10: Poster Video
Family Court of WA

 

 

Reviewed: 22 October 2021

Disclaimer

The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.