Victoria Legal Aid Handbook for Lawyers

Guideline 3.4 – appointment of an ICL for FDRS in matters involving international child abduction

Note: The lawyer is not required to assess eligibility under this guideline. Grants under this guideline are assessed by Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) and allocated to practitioners on the independent children's lawyer (ICL) panel.

Before applying for a grant of assistance for a person to attend VLA’s Family Dispute Resolution Service (FDRS), lawyers should read the following important information about FDRS.


VLA may make a grant of assistance for a child to be represented by an ICL at FDRS once litigation relating to international child abduction has commenced (litigation intervention FDRS) where:

  1. a court orders separate representation of the child and asks us to appoint an ICL
  2. VLA 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 of the matter to an ICL, VLA will put a grant of assistance in place through ATLAS. Lawyers will then be able to submit extension applications via ATLAS in the usual way ensuring that evidence supporting the extension application is kept on the file.

Fees avail able

For information about fees available for a grant under this guideline, see Stage 1D – litigation intervention FDRS in 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, and
  • 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, VLA 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
  • it is appropriate to seek an order for costs under section 117 of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)External Link .

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:

  • 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 the ICL
  • take into account 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 VLA require them to pay
  • require each party not receiving a grant of legal assistance to pay the necessary amount in the way VLA have determined.

Notes on the 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 3.4.

Reviewed 19 April 2023

In this section