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

The Independent Children’s Lawyer (ICL) is an independent, unbiased legal representation for the children of a divorce that acts in and has the best interests of its clients (the children). The ICL is generally appointed when coordinating parenting orders if the case involves mental health concerns, violence, abuse, high conflict, neither parent has legal representation or if it is a particularly complex situation. Generally, the court (the Judge) requests the appointment of an ICL, however in a few cases, the child(ren) can appoint an ICL.

The ICL will try to arrange a mediation whereby they weigh in on what is appropriate and keep the court proceedings focused on parenting arrangements and child-focused issues.

The role of the ICL includes:

  1. Keeping the court process focused on parenting orders and the best interests of the children
  2. Meeting with the children (unless the children are very young)
  3. Subpoena, contact, liaise and read reports from schools, treating medical professionals, counsellors, witnesses and other subpoenaed documents
  4. Arranging mediations or family reports
  5. Being present at all Court mentions and hearings
  6. Interviewing parents and witnesses at final hearing
  7. At times, making and ordering appropriate orders for the children as well as objecting to inappropriate orders put forward by the parents.
  8. The ICL is supplied by the governing States Legal Aid, there is no picking who the children have appointed as their lawyer. Some are particularly good and sometimes others are not. If the ICL won’t subpoena relevant documents, your lawyer needs to act on behalf of the ICL and bring the necessary documents to the attention of the court.

The ICL’s time and costs need to be met by the parents. When the ICL is appointed a schedule of fees is forwarded to the parents and payment is expected. Fee exemptions can apply and they need to be submitted to court in writing accompanied by the relevant forms, then approved or declined by the Court.

Don’t contact the ICL directly. All contact with the ICL must be through your lawyer unless you are self-representing.

Overall, if an ICL is appointed, your situation is particularly complex. At least you can find comfort knowing that there is an unbiased person keeping the interests of the children at the forefront of the proceedings.


This is general advice only and is not provided as legal advice. If you have a legal issue, you should contact a lawyer and/or accountant before making a decision about what to do or applying to the Court. DivorceAnswered.com.au cannot provide legal advice. If you have an emergency situation, please contact Emergency '000'. © Divorce Pty Ltd