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Article Written By Samantha Bolton – Director

In family law proceedings, children can be profoundly affected by decisions made by adults regarding their custody, living arrangements, and general welfare. However, due to their age and vulnerability, children may not always be able to articulate their needs and preferences effectively. This is where an Independent Children’s Lawyer may be appointed by the Court. By providing independent representation, an ICL ensures that children’s voices are heard and their best interests are considered in legal proceedings.

The primary role of an Independent Children’s Lawyer is to advocate for the best interests of the child. This involves:

  1. Gathering Information: An ICL conducts thorough investigations to gather relevant information about the child’s circumstances, including their family environment, relationships with parents or guardians, educational needs, and any special requirements.
  2. Consultation: The ICL quite often meets with the child (depending upon their age, development and personal circumstances) to understand their perspectives, concerns, and preferences regarding the issues at hand.
  3. Representation in Court: An ICL represents the child’s interests in court proceedings, presenting their views and preferences to the judge (if appropriate to do so). This may involve challenging evidence or arguments that are not in the child’s best interests and advocating for appropriate outcomes.
  4. Facilitating Resolution: In some cases, an ICL may work with parents or guardians to reach agreements that prioritize the child’s welfare. They may participate in mediation or negotiation sessions to facilitate constructive dialogue and find mutually acceptable solutions.

One of the key principles guiding the work of an Independent Children’s Lawyer is independence. Unlike legal representatives for parents or guardians who advocate for their clients’ interests, an ICL’s focus is on advocating for arrangements that are in a child’s best interests.

Through their advocacy, empathy, and dedication, ICLs strive to ensure that children’s voices are heard, their needs are met, and their welfare is safeguarded during times of familial upheaval.

 

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