What is 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.
How is an independent children's lawyer appointed?
The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia can order that an independent children’s lawyer be appointed in cases where they consider it is important for your child's welfare and wellbeing. An independent children’s lawyer will only be appointed in parenting cases.
You can also ask for an independent children’s lawyer to be appointed. You will need to let the court know why an independent children’s lawyer is important in your case. You may have to contribute towards the costs of the independent children’s lawyer.
The independent children’s lawyer helps the court decide what arrangements are in the children's best interests, for example, where the children live and who they spend time and communicate with.
The independent children's lawyer does not represent any person in the case.
How will the independent children's lawyer recognise my child's best interests?
An independent children’s lawyer will collect information about your child. They can do this by:
- asking for a family report — a family report is prepared by a social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist to help the court understand your family situation and your child’s views and best interests.
- asking for reports from teachers, guidance officers or other professionals who have regular contact with your child
- speaking with your child.
The independent children’s lawyer may also arrange a conference with you, your ex-partner or your lawyers to talk about issues affecting your child. In some cases this conference can solve a family law dispute.
The independent children's lawyer must make sure that any views expressed by the child in relation to the case are fully put before the court.
Can I contact my child’s independent children’s lawyer?
You will have contact with the independent children’s lawyer in one of two ways:
- If you have your own lawyer, the independent children’s lawyer will discuss your child’s case with them. Please do not contact the independent children’s lawyer directly.
- If you do not have your own lawyer, the independent children’s lawyer will contact you directly in person, by phone or in writing.
What happens to the independent children’s lawyer after a final court order is made?
The independent children’s lawyer’s role will end from when the court makes a final order. They will continue in their role if you or your ex-partner appeals the court’s decision.
Can an independent children’s lawyer be removed?
You, your ex-partner or any other party to the case can apply to the court to have an independent children’s lawyer removed. The court will only do this in very serious circumstances, including where there is evidence that the independent children’s lawyer:
- is acting against the child’s best interests
- is not doing the job properly
- is not making independent decisions
- has a conflict of interest.
You should get legal advice if you want to ask the court to remove an independent children’s lawyer. Costs can be ordered against you if you are unsuccessful in making this application.
If your child is in someone else's care and you think they may be in danger, contact the police and get legal advice. It is a matter for the police whether they take action.
Do I need legal advice?
You may need legal advice if you are going to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia about a parenting dispute, or you want to have an independent children’s lawyer appointed or removed from your case.
Get legal advice
Legal Aid Queensland may provide legal advice on family court processes. If you already have a solicitor appointed to represent you in your family law matter, we cannot give you legal advice.
The following organisations may be able to give legal advice on your matter.
Community legal centres give legal advice on a range of topics. Contact them to see if they can help with your matter.
Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private solicitor for advice or representation.
Family Relationship Advice Line provides information about the family law system in Australia.
Who else can help?
These organisations may also be able to assist with your matter. They do not provide legal advice.
Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs — Child Safety is the organisation that investigates reports of harm or suspected child abuse against any child under 18. They investigate complaints and may provide ongoing services to the child or any person that cares for the child.
Family Relationship Centres provide information, referrals, dispute resolution and advice on parenting after separation.
Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia deals with family law cases. Court forms and information on family court processes are accessible from their website.