An independent children’s lawyer, also known as an ICL, is a Court-appointed lawyer who acts independently to represent the child’s interests in family law proceedings regarding child custody laws. The child, an organization concerned with the welfare of the child or any other person may apply for an ICL to be appointed. The Court may then make an order to appoint an ICL who will attempt to find out what the views of the child are.
The Full Court in Re K  FamCA 21 provided some guidance on what the court might consider when appointing an ICL in matters involving child custody laws, including:
- Alleged child abuse
- Unsuitability of either parent
- Parental conflict
- Proposal to relocate the child far away
- Alienation from a parent
- A parent’s sexual preferences
- Special medical procedure for the child
Role of the ICL
The role of the ICL is not to take instructions from the child, but rather, to represent the child’s best interests. The ICL should form an independent view of what is in the child’s best interests according to the evidence, act in the child’s best interests and make submissions to the Court regarding the child’s best interests. The child’s best interests must be distinguished, however, from the child’s wishes. An ICL is not obliged to follow the child’s wishes and may disclose information about the child against their wishes if necessary.