Family Court of Western Australia

Independent Children's Lawyers

Depending on the circumstances of your case, the Judicial Officer may order that Legal Aid Western Australia appoint an Independent Children’s Lawyer.

An Independent Children’s Lawyer represents your child’s best interests and makes sure that is the focus of any decisions about parenting arrangements. The Independent Children’s Lawyer does not represent any person in the case.

Their main roles include:

  • obtaining relevant evidence, including expert evidence
  • facilitating the child's participation in the proceedings in a way appropriate to the age and maturity of the child
  • acting as an honest broker between the child and the parents and facilitating settlement negotiations where appropriate.

To carry out their role, an Independent Children’s Lawyer may:

  • meet with the children. This is usually the case, unless the child is under school age, or there are exceptional circumstances
  • examine documents from organisations such as schools, Department of Communities, the Police, and medical, psychiatric and psychological records of the children and their parents
  • ask for drug and/or alcohol testing of the parties
  • question witnesses, including parents and experts, at the final hearing
  • arrange for any family or psychological reports.

Independent Children's Lawyers are obliged to consider the views of the child, but ultimately provide their own, independent perspective about what arrangements or decisions are in the child’s best interests.

When is an Independent Children’s Lawyer appointed?

An Independent Children's Lawyer is often appointed in disputes involving:

  • allegations of abuse or neglect in relation to the children
  • a high level of conflict and dispute between the parents
  • allegations of family violence
  • allegations of substance abuse
  • serious mental health issues in relation to one or both of the parents or children
  • difficult and complex issues involved in the dispute.

Anyone taking part in the proceedings can ask the Court to appoint an Independent Children’s Lawyer. The Court will decide if an independent children’s lawyer will be used.

More information

The Guidelines for Independent Children's Lawyers help lawyers understand their role when they have been appointed as an Independent Children's Lawyer.

Last updated: 16-Apr-2018

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