The role of the Independent Children’s Lawyer is to assist the Court in making Orders which are in the best interests of the child.
An Independent Children’s Lawyer will not be appointed in all parenting matters before the Court, however either party can seek the appointment of an Independent Children’s Lawyer or otherwise they may be appointed by the Court on their own initiative.
Circumstances where an Independent Children’s Lawyer may be appointed include matters where:-
- There are allegations made of child abuse;
- There is an apparent intractable dispute or high level of dispute between the parties;
- There are issues of cultural or religious differences between the parties affecting the child;
- There are issues relating to either the parties or the child with respect to significant medical, psychiatric or psychological illness;
- Where there is a proposal to separate siblings; and
- Where neither party to the proceedings is legally represented.
What does the Independent Children’s Lawyer do?
As the role of the Independent Children’s Lawyer is to represent the child’s best interest, they are required to gather information to enable them to form a view as to what Orders are in the best interests for the child. There are many ways the Independent Children’s Lawyer can gather this information which includes asking the Court for a Family Report (see: family reports in children’s matters http://www.mclaughlins.com.au/family-reports-childrens-matters/) to be prepared, issue subpoenas to government departments and the children’s school, doctors and the like, speak to the child’s teacher and in some circumstances speak to the child directly.
Can I talk to the Independent Children’s Lawyer?
If you have solicitors acting for your behalf in your parenting matter you must have your own lawyer contact the Independent Children’s Lawyer, you are unable to contact them directly.
If you are self acting, when the Independent Children’s Lawyer is appointed, they will write to you and the other party or their solicitor and provide their contact details. You may then contact the Independent Children’s Lawyer with issues you wish to raise with respect to the parenting matter.
Do I have to pay for the Independent Children’s Lawyer?
Usually Legal Aid Queensland will pay the entire costs for the Independent Children’s Lawyer. There are some circumstances where Legal Aid Queensland may ask a party to contribute to the costs of the Independent Children’s Lawyer, and this is in cases where there financial circumstances permit a party to do so, or by Order of the Court.
If you have any further questions regarding Independent Children’s Lawyers or questions about parenting matters contact the family law team at McLaughlins Lawyers today on (07) 5591 5099.