An Independent Children's Lawyer acts as your child's representative once proceedings are commenced by one party in the family law Courts seeking parenting matters. However, as Independent Children's Lawyers are funded by Victoria Legal Aid they are scarcely appointed and only when there is risk or vulnerability identified by the Court. That means that privately funded parties do not have the privilege of having their child represented.
How many children do you think want a say in the future arrangements following their parents separation? Some don't and are happy for their parents to work it and to trust that their parents will do the right thing for them. However, most children do want to ask questions of an independent person. Most children do want their wishes heard and do need to have facts of life explained to them by an impartial person that is not their parent.
In our Independent Children's Lawyer practice we ensure that the children who we represent are aware that we do not act for them and act on their instructions (could you imagine those instructions!). The important work that an Independent Children's Lawyer does is to identify whether the child's wishes are maturely formed and to ensure that they are heard and to explain their wishes to their parents and the Judge if those wishes are in their best interests.
Children are remarkable people. Listening to them and the way that they see their families separation and the pathway forward and when and how their parents are harming them is a privilege and we would like to assist you to understand your child during your separation. You may be surprised by what you hear.
You can agree to privately fund your child's representative. Yes that adds another expense to an already expensive process. However, if you are motivated parents who really know what your child wants and why and to ensure your child has their own independent representative so that their opinions and voices are heard then you can appoint Rebecca McGowan to act as your ICL. She connects really well with children and as a mother of young children is up to speed with what makes the child of today's mind tick
A private ICL can make all the difference in assisting your child to understand why their parents have agreed to what is going to happen in their lives and to ensuring that your children feel heard and important. We are all about meeting the best interests of the children at McGowan Family Law and a private ICL can ensure that the children's wishes and any issues from the child's perspective are identified. Don't assume you know what your child thinks, get your ICL to work that out for you.
We are available to act as your privately appointed Independent Children's Lawyer if agreement is reached by both parents to privately fund your child's representative. This may make all the difference to how well your child copes with your separation.
1. Don't assume you know what your child thinks or that they feel comfortable telling you.
2. Your child is not your friend and especially not during your separation. Your child should not be used as your counsellor.
3. Your child will say what you want them to say if you try hard enough. They want to please you but that doesn't mean that they want what they are saying.
4. Your child is a "child". They do not have the emotional maturity or skills to handle adult emotions, issues or responsibilities. Sometimes we overload them with adult content.
5. Separations are often really difficult on children. They are the ones who have to pack their bags each week and change houses. It is really challenging for a child who never feels settled. Be mindful of what you are asking your child to do and think about whether you would do what they have to do.
6. Children who align with their parents and are alienated from the their other parent are often emotionally scarred as adults.
Your child has rights that are enshrined in the Family Law Act.
Children have a right to be safe and protected from experiencing or being exposed to family violence or abuse. They have a right to enjoy a meaningful relationship with their other parent and extended family members provided they are not at risk of harm. They have a right to be engaged with their culture and traditions.
Parents have responsibilities, not rights.
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