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ACT Family Court Trial - Role of Independent Childrens Lawyer?

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by Curious 65, 25 May 2015.

  1. Curious 65

    Curious 65 Member

    25 May 2015
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    Can independent children's lawyers (ICL) be witnesses at the trial? If so, can they be cross-examined? My friend is unfortunately forced to self represent and unsure of requirements. The judge has asked for this but reading the ICL guidelines saw this

    5.2 Limitations of the role of the ICL
    The ICL should guard against stepping beyond his or her professional role and should seek guidance from a Family Consultant or other professional when necessary.

    While the Family Law Act 1975 and the Family Court Act 1997 in Western Australia provide some basis for a confidential relationship between the ICL and the child, there are circumstances where the ICL cannot guarantee the child a confidential relationship. In addition to explaining this limitation at the commencement of the relationship, it may be necessary to periodically remind the child.

    It is not the role of the ICL to:
    1. conduct disclosure interviews;
    2. become a witness in the proceedings; or
    3. conduct therapy or counselling with the child.
    The ICL should be alert and sensitive to the risk of a child becoming over dependent upon him or her and should consider seeking peer or professional advice in responding to such a situation.

    The ICL should prepare the child for the end of the professional relationship before the end of the proceedings. They should discuss the fact that the ICL's role will soon be over, and determine what contact, if any, they will continue to have.
  2. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

    16 July 2014
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    Hi Curious 65,
    How is your friend going with this matter? Does your friend still have any questions concerning the independent children's lawyers? You seem to have found some good information that appears to answer your question (i.e. ICLs should not participate as witnesses and therefore, should not be cross examined).

    ICLs are appointed to represent the interests of the child. They are akin to lawyers and therefore, their communications with the children should be protected by legal professional privilege. Their opinions are usually based on reports made by family consultants. These reports may be challenged and cross-examined. However, the ICLs themselves should not be called in as a witness or be cross-examined.
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