The Family Law Amendment Bill 2023 has introduced new requirements for Independent Children’s Lawyer (ICL)

The Family Law Amendment Bill 2023 mandates that the ICL meet with the children they represent and provide them with an opportunity to express their views in relation to the proceedings. The ICL can decide when and how the meetings take place.

However, the ICL is not required to meet with the children if:

  • the child is under 5 years old;
  • the child does not wish to meet the ICL or express their views; or
  • there are exceptional circumstances that justify the ICL not meeting with the child.

Exceptional circumstances include if the meetings would expose the child to physical or psychological harm that cannot be safely managed or if it  would have a significant adverse effect on the wellbeing of the child.

The Hague Convention

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty that provides the procedure for the return of a child who has been unlawfully abducted by a parent from the country. Cases can be brought under the Hague Convention for child abduction.

Before the amendments, ICLs were only brought into cases under the Hague Convention in exceptional circumstances. However, with the new amendments to the Family Law Act, the need to only appoint ICLs in ‘exceptional circumstances’  (s 68L(3)) has been repealed, meaning that this restriction no longer applies. This makes it easier for ICLs to get involved in child abduction cases as they can be appointed to such a case in the same way as in any other family law matter.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided above is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be nor should it be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice.