Victoria Legal Aid Handbook for Lawyers

Guideline 1.4 – appointment of an ICL in litigation relating to parenting disputes

Note: The lawyer is not required to submit the initial application in these matters. The allocation and first grant of assistance are processed by the Grants and Quality Assurance unit at Victoria Legal Aid (VLA). Matters approved pursuant to this guideline are allocated to lawyers on VLA's Independent Children's Lawyer (ICL) Panel only.


VLA may make a grant of assistance for a child to be represented by an ICL in litigation in parenting disputes, including in appeals (see Guideline 8 – Appeals) where:

  1. a court orders separate representation of the child and asks us to appoint an ICL
  2. we decide that it is reasonable in the circumstances to make a grant of assistance for separate representation of the child.

ICLs may also get assistance for time-limited ongoing work necessary for the implementation of orders.

Documentary requirements

Following allocation and first grant of assistance (extension 0), all extension requests must be submitted by the practitioner pursuant to the simplified grants process (SGP). Evidence that supports the extension must be kept on file.

Information to assist lawyers with the grants and applications process and the documentary evidence to support the application under each guideline is set out in the Notes on the Commonwealth family law and child support guidelines.

Appearing and instructing as an ICL

VLA encourage the ICL to appear as solicitor advocate at final hearings, but the ICL is not required to do so.

Fees available

For information about fees available for a grant under this guideline, see Fee table 4.2.

Contribution to the cost of representation by an ICL

When making a grant of assistance for an ICL, VLA will consider the ability of the parties to the dispute to contribute to the associated costs. This includes costs associated with preparation of a family report and the professional costs and disbursements associated with the grant of legal assistance for the ICL.

VLA may determine an amount to be paid by each party, taking into account their:

  • capacity to pay


  • legally assisted status


  • contributions assessed to pay in other legally assisted matters.

The requirement for parties to contribute to the costs of an ICL does not apply to proceedings relating to special medical procedures involving a child, regardless of whether any party to the proceedings is in receipt of a grant of legal assistance.

If a party does not pay their share

If a party refuses or fails to pay the amount determined, then VLA must continue to provide a grant of legal assistance for the ICL.

However, we will do so only on condition that:

  • the ICL seeks an order for costs against that party at an appropriate time in the court proceedings


If VLA makes a grant of legal assistance for the separate representation of a child by an ICL in court proceedings, and at least one of the parties to the proceedings has not been provided with a grant of legal assistance, then, usually, VLA must do the following:

  • tell each party not receiving a grant of legal assistance that each may have to pay an equal portion of the total costs and disbursements of theICL


  • consider the capacity to pay of each party not receiving a grant of legal assistance, and determine whether to waive or to reduce the amount that each party must pay


  • tell each party not receiving a grant of legal assistance of the amount which we require them to pay


  • require each party not receiving a grant of legal assistance to pay the necessary amount in the way we have determined.

Notes on this guideline

For commentary and examples on the eligibility criteria, grants assessment process, documentary requirements and fees and billing relevant to this guideline, see the Notes on guideline 1.4.

Reviewed 19 April 2023

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