Some matters before the Court will call for the appointment of an Independent Children’s Lawyer (“ICL”). An ICL is a neutral third party lawyer who is there to advocate for the best interests of the children.
An ICL will be appointed to your matter if there are any complex issues, allegations or a history of family violence or if the parties are particularly hostile. The ICL will give submissions and make recommendations to the Court with respect to the children’s best interests. The ICL would normally meet with the child to ascertain their wishes.
Solicitors who act as ICLs are lawyers experienced in family law and are often senior solicitors.
You and the other party to your matter will not be expected to cover the costs of the ICL; this is normally done by Legal Aid. To this end, the introduction of an ICL will largely be at the discretion of the Court.
If there is an ICL appointed to your matter, you will need to treat the ICL like the other party. When you write to the Court or file any documents in the course of the matter, you will need to make sure a copy is also sent to the ICL.
If you have any queries about the role of an ICL in your matter, you can find out more by downloading the Family Court’s ICL guidelines here.