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What is an Independent Children’s Lawyer?

Lauren Maddalena

Many of our clients are unaware that Amy Jenkins is not only a Partner of the firm and the head of the Family Law team but she has also been appointed to the Legal Aid Panel of Independent Children’s Lawyers.

Being an Independent Children’s Lawyer (often called an ICL) requires specialised training which Amy completed in 2015.  Amy has been on the Independent Children’s Lawyer Panel since 2016.

The conflict that can arise between parents when they are going through a family law separation can often reach levels that inhibit one or both parents from focusing on what is in the interests of their child.  Additionally, there are often complex issues that need to be addressed such as allegations of family violence, abuse or neglect, mental health considerations or perhaps the child is of an age where their view would be considered by the Court.  In these circumstances, an Independent Children’s Lawyer would be appointed.

As an Independent Children’s Lawyer Amy is appointed by the Court to represent the interests of the child involved in the proceedings and to make sure that any decisions that are reached are child focused.  An Independent Children’s Lawyer will inform the Court about the child’s wishes and what Orders they recommend should be made focusing on the interests of the child.

Before reaching their recommendation, an Independent Children’s Lawyer will review all of the evidence filed by the parties as well as any Family or Expert Reports and any documents that have been produced under subpoenas filed by the parties.  These can often include documents from NSW Police Force, Department of Family and Community Services, and the child’s school or health care providers.

The Independent Children’s Lawyer will also meet with the child to discuss their view and what they would like to see happen.  This cannot always occur, particularly if the child is of a young age, but where ever possible the Independent Children’s Lawyer will consider the child’s wishes before making their recommendation.

An Independent Children’s Lawyer will attend all Court events or mediations and be involved in all settlement negotiations to ensure that the needs and welfare of the child are adequately met.

The costs of the Independent Children’s Lawyer are met by Legal Aid however parties are required to contribute to those costs.  Legal Aid have the discretion to waive those fees in the event that one or both of the parties are not financially able to meet their share of the costs.

Children are often the most vulnerable and overlooked members of society and being able to give back to the community in her role as an Independent Children’s Lawyer is something that Amy finds extremely rewarding.

If you would like more information on Independent Children’s Lawyers or any parenting matters through the Family Court system, contact Amy Jenkins from our Family Law team.

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