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does an ICL have the authority to write to a child's school to inform them that a father's wish to discuss his child's poor mid-year school report is only to occur by email,letter or telephone?Awaiting final hearing decision at moment in matter where ICL recommended mother have sole parental responsibility but at moment doesn't father have right to a meeting with his child's school in person?
I suspect there must be more background to this for the ICL to do what you are suggesting.

Under section 68L of the Family Law Act (in Western Australia, Family Court Act section 164), the court may order that a child be separately represented by a lawyer. This lawyer is called the Independent Children's Lawyer or ICL. The court will ask Legal Aid to provide a lawyer to represent a child.

The purpose of appointing an ICL is to assist the Court to reach a decision in parenting matters which is in the best interests of the child. The ICL has special responsibilities in child related court proceedings. The way in which the ICL acts may not always meet with the approval of the parties or the child, but this does not mean that the ICL has failed in his/her professional responsibilities.

The ICL "Generally", from cases I have been involved with, only becomes very active a few days before there is a hearing on. In a number of cases I have written that they are wholly ineffectual and spend so little time on the case they are usually very misinformed.

It is therefore surprising to see the ICL so engaged. I have had some matters where the ICL has been very constructive in court on the day and and assisted an SRL to get a proper outcome but rare to see them do anything outside the court hearing.

What is the role of the ICL?
The best interests of the child will ordinarily be served by the ICL enabling the child to be involved in decision-making about the proceedings. However, this does not mean that the child is the decision maker. Among the factors that indicate the appropriate degree of involvement in an individual case are: 
  • the extent to which the child wishes to be involved; and
  • the extent that is appropriate for the child having regard to the child's age,
  • developmental level, cognitive abilities, emotional state and views.
 These factors may change over the course of the ICL's appointment.

Guidelines for the ICL
An ICL should:
  • Act impartially and in a manner which is unfettered by considerations other than the best interests of the child.
  • Must be truly independent of the Court and the parties to the proceedings.
  • Be a skilful, competent and impartial best interests advocate. It is the right of the child to establish a professional relationship with the ICL.
  • Seek to work together with any Family Consultant or external expert involved in the case to promote the best interests of the child.
  • Assist the parties to reach a resolution, whether by negotiation or judicial determination, that is in the child's best interests.
  • Bring to the attention of the Court any facts which, when considered in context, seriously call into question the advisability of any agreed settlement.
  • Promote the timely resolution of the proceedings that is consistent with the best interests of the child.
  • Not take instructions from the child but is required to ensure the Court is fully informed of the child's views, in an admissible form where possible.
  • Ensure that the views and attitudes brought to bear on the issues before the Court are drawn from and supported by the admissible evidence and not from a personal view or opinion of the case.
  • Seek peer and professional support and advice where the case raises issues that are beyond his or her expertise. This may involve making applications to the Court for directions in relation to the future conduct of the matter.
  • If satisfied that the adoption of a particular course of action is in the best interests of the child, make a submission to the court suggesting the adoption of that course of action.

So it again surprises me that such an instruction as suggested has been issued.

An instruction issued by the ICL carries no weight and the only thing that matters is the court order(s) that is/are in operation. You have not said what orders if any are in operation.

When does the ICL say what they want?
In some cases an ICL will know early in a matter what orders they seek on behalf of the child. If the ICL does know, s/he will tell the parents lawyer. If one or more of the parties are self represented then the ICL can greatly assist the court in deliberations and trying to get some agreement  in any negotiations prior to being before the Judicial Officer.

In other cases, the child's best interest may be unclear and the ICL is unable to make a recommendation until much later, or sometimes not at all.

How does the ICL decide what orders to seek from the court?
Every case is different. There is no fixed formula but the is a general approach. Before knowing what to ask for, the ICL will:
  • Read all the affidavits
  • Examine any subpoena documents
  • Find out what outcome the child wants and why they want it.
  • Talk to the court counsellor and other relevant people
  • Listen carefully to the evidence if a case goes to hearing.
In my view the ICL should not be interfering with school matters. Unless the court has directed such instruction then there is NO instruction. Unfortunately lawyers, court documents and separating parents are problematic for schools and where there are uncooperative parents the school will take a very careful approach.

There is nothing to stop you interacting with the school (That you have told us about) and I am very much in favour of building a strong relationship with the school staff and in particular the child's teachers.

If the ICL has recommended "sole parental responsibility" there must be some issues that are of concern. Family violence or Abuse, allegations of drug taking or alcohol abuse.

Last edit: by Secretary SPCA

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
Secretary SPCA said
I suspect there must be more background to this for the ICL to do what you are suggesting.
 A lot more. If someone is about to lose parental responsibility it has to be for a reason and doing this at the school wont help anybody.

Usually school reports are sent with a "we would like to see you" or "we dont want to see you" against each lesson report. There are also parent teacher nights to discuss progress. Just ringing up the school when you (seem) to be on the verge of losing your right to do that is pretty silly.

Even if you did get to go to the school what would you be saying? Is it a "lets blame someone" visit? Why do you think the reports are bad? Are they REALLY that bad or do you just "think" that?

Why did the ICL do this? THere must be some alleged radical behaviour to make them do this.

Last edit: by The Wolf

Nothing i say should be taken as legal advice. I am not a Lawyer. If i help you it is of your own free choice to listen to what i say or not. I do not create documents for you. I do not represent you.... Purple Monkey Dishwasher
The Wolf said
If someone is about to lose parental responsibility it has to be for a reason and doing this at the school wont help anybody.
The ICL cannot remove "Parental Responsibility" only a  court can do that and make an order (procedural, interim or final) . As much as the ICL might want to remove Shared Parental Responsibility they can't, as it is a rebuttable presumption in the Act that requires a hearing to change it. The ICL should have requested Subpoena material from the school if a case is underway and it is that material that the ICL will want to test. Some ICL's might ask one parent for permission to speak to the school about certain matters and such authority will have to be signed and sent back to the ICL.

As for interacting with the school it is important for the children that both parents are able to speak to staff and masters at their respective schools about the child's progress. If anonymoususername wants to post more about what is going on better commentary may be afforded.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity

My " doing this at the school " involves

Sorry Wolf- I don't understand exactly what you imagine my " doing this at the school " involves ? There is indeed background to this query & unfortunately it involves the despicable " Domestic Violence Method ". Upon final separation with my child's mother unfortunately the mother went the route of false allegations for strategic reasons & for added chaos had our child listed as "protected person " status on the Interim Intervention Order.The timing of which coincided with our child's starting on her schooling phase of life.

Upon her enrollment I since discovered I was nowhere included as parent/guardian/emergency contact-completely omitted.

I fought the order for seven months before "accepting with no admissions" the order being made final with conditions our child be removed as "protected person" status & a couple of others that are irrelevant to my question.

I did "accept" (foolishly I now believe) as by then I had begun proceedings in Federal Circuit Court of Australia & was convinced that was where I should contest.

In June of this year whilst contesting final hearing in FCCA I finally was listened to in relation to our child's school not having my details to enable my being able to be afforded the simple pleasures of school reports & photo purchasing  opportunities,despite the mother's repeated assurances to the Family Consultant(family report author)as well as her lawyer over the time that she had indeed notified them of .

Without having the luxury of attending a single occasion of our child's 2 years of school due to FCCA interim orders repeatedly being "taking the road of less caution" due to again the mother's strategic claims of DV I have persevered through over 12 months of CSS visits of woefully inadequate frequency & duration.

Next hurdle was months of longer duration visits away from CSS but with my elderly parents in a supervisory role to finally at present seeing our child unsupervised for 4hrs p/f away from CSS( still woefully inadequate).

So throw into the debacle a ICL who it seems completely sided with my ex's fabled account of our relationship firstly on untested evidence & after wrapping up final hearing where I believe I shone the beacon of truth & exposed her lies for what they were,the ICL having refrained from altering her recommendations from her gullible pre final hearing state.

Together with the coincidental acknowledgment from our child's school suddenly I was given a copy of our child's mid-year report mid July.

To say I was heartbroken upon reading it would be a gross understatement .

To say I was irate that the mother had only 2 weeks prior answered a direct question from the Judge asking her how our child was doing in school with what obviously was yet another fine example of perjury, I wrote to the ICL & sent her a copy of the report begging her to alert the judge to this fact.

What happened then was the ICL wrote to the mother "requesting her permission" that I be allowed to contact the school to discuss our child's troubles.The ICL then wrote to the school alerting them to the fact the mother "permitted" my contacting them & she then felt inclined to add the parts about the ICL determining that at this stage any correspondence would only occur by way of email,letter or telephone.

So that is the "background" & hence why I posed the original question in my post.

I can assure you "my doing this at the school" involves solely finding out how I can best help my child & nothing else.

As per my original poster question please ( maybe Secretary SPCA ) am I right to feel royally shafted by this ICL's actions that I believe are way out of line & involve authority that she simply does not & should not possess.

Thank you for reading & hopefully offering insight.
There is nothing unusual or outstanding here. It is typical of what we hear time and time and time again. My own views have always been that you should engage with schools to the maximum extent possible. Take every opportunity to build a relationship with the school and ensure you are able to do so by including these sorts of things in carefully crafted orders both at Interim and Final hearings.

I have posted extensively in about the changes required and yet it perplexes me that some litigants want to remain with the  Family Court to determine these matters of and allegations of Domestic Violence. It simply takes too long.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
Thanks SecretarySPCA- I couldn't agree more about maximum involvement with the school.When the ex 1st sought AVO (3 days after learning we had been scheduled for mediation at FDRCentre) & cruelly decided to seek our then 5 yr old be listed as "protected person " status along with herself it not only saw me unable to attend our daughter's 1st day going to school milestone.

It near drove me insane having read the school's online newsletter( closest involvement for me ) asking for parent's to volunteer to help out in any number of roles & me at the time experiencing being unemployed for 1st time in my life & not quite mentally fit to change that around.I would dearly have loved to be an extra reader or yard patroller etc. instead of locked to this pc not 10km's away researching for the upcoming & totally avoidable court proceedings.

Anyways back to my overzealous ICL ……..The plot thickens !

Our child's school held a function several weeks ago & we had been chatting about it during our 4 hour visit the weekend before & seems my off the cuff comment to my girl that " Oh , I wish I could attend to watch you like all other proud dad's " & " fingers crossed I may be able to see her at this years sports day ".

Seems them comments reached the ex's ears & she no doubt raced to the school in a mock "fearing for her life" performance as I was suddenly graced with a short Email from school Deputy principal informing me "they had learnt of my 'plan' to attend the function….consider the innocent children…..possible conflict….& advising me to rethink as " they had court orders stating I was not to be within 50meters of the school etc etc.

.after much deliberation I sent the Deputy principal a reply cordially explaining the innocent unintentional mix-up,but due to her phrase used it was my belief the school had been intentionally misled as to the present legal situation.

I refrained from apportioning blame on them & reiterated my strong desire to meet with staff purely to discuss my slightly struggling daughter's schooling at a time of their liking but preferably after school hours to avoid me running into the mother .
I included a copy of the AVO that was/is the valid & recent one that was the result of the "deal" done that saw me "accept with no admissions" on proviso our child was removed as "protected".

I invited them to alert me of any other orders /docs. they had that showed contrary & pointed out the ICL was merely a solicitor with LSC & as such had no authority to dictate terms of any meetings between school & myself & signed off apologizing for the unfortunate predicament I realized they were sadly in ,assured them I held no grudges to their ignoring my previous requests to meet & as things stood I was simply a very concerned separated parent of a little girl who is my world & I wish to help before she loses her way before her academic journey has even begun-she deserves that.

Sure as eggs,my presumptions were swiftly confirmed by reply e-mail 3 days later full of apology & an asap offer to meet.

Yes the ex saw no reason why she should alert the school to the fact that as of JAN '14 our child,their student,was no longer the subject of any disgusting strategic court order,hence schools misguided belief to view me as some monster unworthy of their time1

By crikey I felt like I'd won x-lotto reading that-after so much insanity & biased injustice I took that as a small win of sorts.
What bothers me massively though now is after learning of the ICL's power trip & sent letter to school attempting to allay their fears of having to meet me personally & my subsequent 2 letters seeking ICL's reasoning & perceived authority to banish me to indirect contact-ability only & her flat refusal to add to the stock standard " I suggest you seek legal advice".

Despite my pointing her towards that filed evidence in previous updating affidavit I lodged coupled with her non existent "forensic judgment" she needed to possess which saw her compile not a single report,or investigate closer 2 competing claims of the ex & I that the other was more-so the perpetrator of DV type treatment inflicted upon the other during our relationship.

As a novice SRL I acknowledge I probably didn't endear myself to the "system" & my updating affidavits were thick & undoubtedly worded wrong but 1 role of an ICL once appointed  was to,read & inspect all prior filed papers

As ICL's recommendations at final hearing were near exact to the letter what mother's were, I honestly believe she did not concern herself with data matching any annexed papers I submitted that not only served as evidence to back up any claim I swore oath on but also would see to another round of false accusations of me shown up to be lies they were.
Did ICL simply take mother's word on status of AVO?

What other explanation is there for her elitist type behavior? No legal ,fair banning power was available to her to treat me way she did-unless she presumed I was still banned due to old AVO.

Perhaps had her initial bias of me not been so severe she may have even found cause to direct her barrister friend to ask the mother a couple questions in cross examination like "Your ludicrous claim the father forced you to defraud centrelink of single mum pension for 5 years doesn't seem to gel with these bank statements in name of mother vividly showing a high % of said rorts were blown on Facebook & other equally frequented sites of narcissists & borderline personality disorder sufferers ... Or  ... scan both our subpoenaed medical records to see who of us had documented mental health issues & other troublesome listings that pre-date our relationship starting-so presumably making her claims that I inflicted ALL her problems during our time together impossible also.

That should have seen closer inspection of DV claims tested using the PPP test described in the Courts own webpages as a checklist to go through in such cases but then it shoots holes in the preconceived theory of female victim/male perp when its also a fact that I still have a current "restraining order" taken out against the woman I dated briefly before getting involved with the mother.

Pffft Nothing I can do now though but cross fingers waiting for decision that has taken 13 weeks already.
This sucks!!!

Last edit: by OneRingRules


I sincerely hope that your affidavits are more succinct and on point than the posts you make here.

The TL:DR of your post appears to be that the school has now received a copy of the actual AVO documents, and are happy to meet with you.

A suggestion for you, in meeting with them. They DO NOT CARE about the stuff going on between you and your ex wife. They care about your daughters welfare. Keep all discussions focussed on her, and if you speak like you write, then I'd suggest practicing short, clear sentences about how she is going, what you can do to help, and how you can be involved at the school. If you are unemployed and the school is happy to have you, there is no reason that you can't volunteer - assuming that you can pass a Working with Children Check.

If you show up and ramble incoherently as you have in this thread, with no filter as to your anger / distress or the issues you raise, then they may very well see you as someone who shouldn't be around their students (because you'd be around a whole class, not just your own child).

I'm sorry if that sounds harsh, but you are not coming across well and I am not sure that you are aware of the damage that you can do to your own case by presenting yourself poorly.
anonymoususername, please excuse me for being blunt.

Heres your problem… Its ALL me me me me me.

Just to make sure im right i've re read your posts and for the life of me i cannot see one single mention of what your kids feel or want. If i have missed one, please let me know. I see a lot of soapboxing and talk of how you "think" it should be, how we think stuff should be is often not the reality of how stuff is

On top of that i see a lot of blame, in fact you blame everyone from the ICL to the Ex to the Court to the School but not once have i seen you write "well i did this wrong" or "this is what was said about me"

If this is how you came across in court then it is no surprise the ICL did not change their views when presented with evidence that might have changed their views.

Take a step back and change the focus from what you think should  to what you can given what is.

I cannot believe for a second that this behaviour (the way you are typing) did not go unnoticed AND did you harm in your hearing. Court is a very fine balancing act between fact and persuasion and NEITHER of them have room for "I thinks" or erratic reasoning based on "I thinks"  or for long winded rants based on the same

Again, i'm not having a go at you, i'm trying to help. Soapboxing can make you look bitter and twisted, especially to an ICL or a court.

I hope you get the judgement you are looking for

Nothing i say should be taken as legal advice. I am not a Lawyer. If i help you it is of your own free choice to listen to what i say or not. I do not create documents for you. I do not represent you.... Purple Monkey Dishwasher
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