Victorians will have greater access to Independent Children’s Lawyers from next month. Cristina Huesch here at Alliance Family Law is an accredited Independent Children’s Lawyer and can assist you with your matter–please call her to discuss your situation. Cristina takes on matters in NSW, Victoria and the ACT.
Here, the full media release from the Law Institute of Victoria:
LIV to establish directory of Independent Children’s Lawyers
A directory of qualified Independent Children’s Lawyers is to be established by the Law Institute of Victoria to assist parties in family law disputes or in parenting proceedings in the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.
LIV President, Geoff Bowyer, said Independent Children’s Lawyers were appointed by the court, or requested by the parents, to help the judge decide what arrangements were in the best interests of the child or children. The ICL makes recommendations to the court based on evidence given during the course of the matter.
The LIV directory will provide a new resource of qualified LIV members who meet specific selection criteria and are available and willing to represent children privately. It will also serve as a reference for the LIV president to draw on (if so ordered by a court) in making presidential ICL appointments.
“Previously, this service was only available publicly through Victoria Legal Aid. This new service will provide an alternative source of lawyers qualified to assist children in these difficult disputes, and extend it to private clients. Private ICLs will also be able to assist parents in matters which are not before the court, a resource which has not previously been available,” Mr Bowyer said.
Mr Bowyer said legal aid funding restrictions reduced access to ICLs during the course of litigation and removed the ability to have an instructor at a final hearing. VLA will also only fund ICLs where a judge indicates there are allegations of abuse; the child is alienated from one or both parties or there are significant medical or psychological illness or personality disorder issues.
“Our family law members are seriously concerned about the impact on vulnerable children of these changes and urged us to step in and act to promote access to independent children’s lawyers,” Mr Bowyer said.
“Our lawyers believe that the restrictions on legal aid funding may put children at risk. This may also lead to a knock on effect of delays in the courts for all other matters.” he said.
Applications for entry to the directory are available now.
It is anticipated that the directory will be available on the LIV website next month.
For further information or to apply to register see http://www.liv.asn.au/abouticl