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A Guide to Independent Children’s Lawyers

November 5, 2023

What is an Independent Children’s Lawyer?

Occasionally, in complex parenting proceedings a judge may order that an independent children’s lawyer (ICL) be appointed. Parties are also entitled to request that an ICL be appointed, provided they can prove to the court that it is necessary. According to the Family Law Act 1975, an independent children’s lawyer is a legal practitioner with specific training and experience surrounding complicated family matters and their role is to represent the children’s best interests. They effectively act as a third party to the proceedings, entirely separate from opposing parents or family members. The ICL’s role in any parenting matter is solely to advocate for the best interests of a child or children who are subject to the proceedings.

Why would an ICL be appointed?

It is typically only extremely difficult, high conflict parenting cases that warrant the assistance of an ICL.  Circumstances where allegations of abuse, neglect or family violence are present is one such example.  Where one or both parents or one or more of the children suffers from mental health issues, an ICL would also be required.  If the child is of a mature age and able to express clear views that differ significantly from that of a parent, an ICL may be appointed to represent their best interests.  Additionally, in cases where none of the above circumstances apply, but the parties’ argued cases are vastly opposing, it may be necessary for an ICL to assist. 

Does an ICL represent the child?

No. The ICL represents the children’s best interests. Whilst the wishes of children the subject of parenting proceedings may align with what the ICL deems to be in their best interests, this is not always the case. It is within the scope of the ICL’s duty however to ensure that the court is made completely aware of what the children’s views are, if the children have expressed any.

How does an ICL determine what is in the children’s best interests?

There is typically a process through which the ICL will collect relevant information about the children and family circumstances. There are several means by which they can do this:

  • Requesting a family report, prepared by a psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker
  • Requesting information from the child’s teachers, guidance counsellor, medical or other professionals with whom they are in regular contact.
  • Obtaining any relevant expert evidence or information from authorities.
  • Talking directly with the children.


Who pays for the ICL’s services?

The ICL’s costs will generally be funded by the respective State or Territory’s Legal Aid Commission, however there are specific circumstances under which the parties may be obliged to pay costs.

How Love Family Lawyers can help:

Love Family Lawyers understand that if you’re a party to a matter where an independent children’s lawyer has been appointed, you’ve likely found yourself in an incredibly delicate and sensitive situation. Our professional family law solicitors have the appropriate training to respectfully work to achieve the best possible outcome for you and your family with compassion. Contact us today. We’re here to help.

Lisa Lucas

Lisa Lucas

Legal Bookkeeping & Accounting

Meet Lisa, our seasoned professional who joined our team in August 2022, boasting an impressive background of over two decades in accounting. With a solid foundation in IT and a Bachelor of Science under her belt, Lisa’s journey evolved as she not only managed her own accounting firm but also earned postgraduate degrees in both accounting and commercial law.

In her pivotal role, Lisa is instrumental in maintaining the firm’s compliance and ensuring seamless operations. Her wealth of experience brings a wealth of knowledge to our team, contributing to our success and client satisfaction.

Beyond the numbers, Lisa finds balance in her life through activities like Pilates and walks with her beloved dogs. Her dedication, expertise, and passion make Lisa an invaluable asset to our team, driving us towards excellence in every aspect of our work.

Amy Hayslep

Amy Hayslep


Amy joined our team in December 2022 as a receptionist, where she plays a vital role in managing our firm’s administrative support and daily operations. 

Her commitment to excellence and efficiency has greatly contributed to the smooth running of our office. 

Amy is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Business with a focus on Marketing at the University of the Sunshine Coast, a testament to her dedication to professional growth and understanding of business dynamics. 

Amy’s aspiration to integrate her marketing insights into her current role demonstrates her forward-thinking approach and commitment to continuous improvement. Outside of work, Amy enjoys Pilates, baking, and gardening.

Jon Staby

Jon Staby


Jon was born in Windhoek, Namibia and moved with his family to Brisbane in 2005. Jon is currently studying his Bachelor of Laws and aims to complete it by the end of 2024. 

Jon has been currently working as a Paralegal since April 2023 and has a keen interest in all family law areas.  

Jon believes in the law to empathetically and expertly help clients to reach the best outcomes for their unique circumstances. 

In his free time, Jon’s hobbies include painting, playing basketball with friends, and watching television shows with his pet cat Luna.  

Serena May

Serena May

LLB (Hons) BBus

Serena was admitted to the profession in 2022 and holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Business from QUT. 

Serena has previous experience as a Barrister’s Assistant in family law as well as working in a mid-tier commercial law firm in property law, wills and estates, employment law and construction disputes. This experience has provided her with the opportunity to learn from an array of senior legal practitioners before choosing to specialise in family law.

Serena is passionate about ensuring her clients feel well informed throughout their matter. Serena acknowledges every personal circumstance is unique and no other person knows exactly what it is like to walk in your shoes. 

Serena recognises that clients are often experiencing immense stress and require compassionate and efficient communication from start to finish to empower them to move on to the next chapter of their life.

On her weekends Serena enjoys heading to the coast for a surf and spending time with her poodle pup, Miss April May.

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Practice Leader – Founder

Michael was awarded a Bachelor of Laws with Honours from QUT in 2012, and was admitted as a lawyer in 2013. 

He also has a Bachelor of Science from UQ which he was awarded in 2007 (before deciding that a career in law would be more interesting than science).

Michael has practiced exclusively in the areas of Family Law, Child Safety (Care and Protection), and Domestic Violence since mid-2014. 

Michael has experience as a Separate Representative for children in Child Safety cases and has appeared on behalf of hundreds of people in Family Law and Domestic Violence cases in Queensland and the ACT.

Michael’s experience means he has a particularly keen insight into how to best avoid Court and he has an excellent record of settling cases quickly and without unnecessary conflict and cost. 

That said, he also knows how to best prepare and conduct litigation if Court becomes unavoidable, and he will expertly guide you through even the most complex and delicate case.

Michael takes a genuine interest in his clients and will make sure that you are properly advised in a way that is easy to understand, without all the unnecessary jargon that so many lawyers love to use. You can trust Michael to be direct, flexible, and empathetic. 

When he is not at work, Michael loves being in the outdoors, whether that’s fishing from his kayak or working in the garden. He also loves to cook and experiment in the kitchen.

Matthew Watt

Matthew Watt

Practice Manager – Founder

As one of the founders of BWJ Law, Matt is an indispensable member of the executive team. 

He plays a pivotal role in the day-to-day operations of the firm, focusing on implementing operational strategies and realizing the organization’s vision. 

This ensures that all employees are equipped with the necessary resources to perform at their best, delivering unparalleled service to clients.

An active member of the Australasian Legal Practice Management Association (ALPMA) and an associate member of the QLD Law Society, Matt consistently stays updated with the latest in legal practice management. 

He recognizes the significance of continuous professional growth, ensuring that he offers the best support to legal practitioners. 

Moreover, he adeptly manages a diverse range of corporate and strategic responsibilities inherent to the role of a practice manager.