2014 | Research papers
Rae Kaspiew, Rachel Carson, Sharnee Moore, John De Maio, Julie Deblaquiere and Briony Horsfall
Independent Children's Lawyers (ICLs) are appointed to represent the best interests of children and young people in family law matters. Their role has three main, interrelated facets: to facilitate children and young people's participation in proceedings relevant to their care (the participatory function), to gather evidence and to manage the litigation and play 'honest broker' by bringing a child focus to proceedings. Recent empirical research conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has established that the participatory function is complex and contested and that fam-ily law professionals, parents, children and young people ascribe differing levels of importance to the three facets of the ICL role. There are varied approaches among ICLs to how they conceive of, and/or undertake the participatory function. In some areas, practices in this regard do not meet the expectations of others, including judicial officers, parents, chil-dren and young people. This paper draws on the AIFS ICL Study to consider the nature and efficacy of the ICL role, with a particular focus on ICLs' participatory function and the perceptions and impact of the varying approaches to this function emerging from quantitative and qualitative data.