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The child has a right to establish a professional relationship with the ICL.
In considering any views expressed by the child and the steps to be taken in a matter the ICL is to be aware: that each child will have different emotional, cognitive and intellectual developmental levels, family structures, family dynamics, sibling relationships, religious and cultural backgrounds; and that children are vulnerable to external pressures when caught in disputes involving their parents.
When the ICL meets the child, s/he should explain to the extent that is appropria0te for the child:
However, strive to establish a relationship of trust and respect. This is assisted by explaining the role of the ICL, including:
How the child can have a say and make their views known during the process; that where a child of sufficient maturity wishes to have a direct representative who will act on the child’s instructions, the ICL should inform the child of the possibility of applying to become a part to the proceedings:
The involvement of any report writer, the nature and purpose of the report, the use to which the report will be put, and that all parties will see the report; and How the ICL can be contacted by the child?
The ICL should guard against stepping beyond his or her professional role and should seek guidance from a Family Consultant or other professional when necessary.
While the Family Law Act 1975 and the Family Court Act 1997 in Western Australia provide some basis for a confidential relationship between the ICL and the child, there are ircumstances where the ICL cannot guarantee the child a confidential relationship.
In addition to explaining this limitation at the commencement of the relationship, it may be necessary to periodically remind the child.
It is not the role of the ICL to:
The ICL should seek to provide the child with the opportunity to express his or her views in circumstances that are free from the influence of others.
A child who is unwilling to express a view must not be pressured to do so and must be reassured that it is his or her right not to express a view even where another member of the sibling group does want to express a view.
The ICL should ensure that there are opportunities for the child to be advised about significant developments in his or her matter if the child so wishes, and should ensure that the child has the opportunity to express any further view or any refinement or change to previously expressed views.
The ICL must take into account that the weight to be given to the child’s views will depend on a number of factors and is expected to be familiar with case law on the subject.
In preparing to make submissions on the evidence as to the weight to be placed on the views of the child, the ICL may consult with the single expert, Family Consultant or other relevant expert in relation to:
If the ICL considers that the evidence indicates that the best interests of the child will be promoted by orders which are contrary to the child’s views, the ICL is to:
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