The Magistrates Court is the first level of the Queensland Court System. The Magistrates Court also hears applications for Domestic Violence Orders.
Magistrates Court matters involving juveniles (people under the age of 17) are dealt with in a special court known as Childrens Court. This court hears applications for child protection orders and youth justice (youth criminal) cases. Most child protection matters will be heard by a Magistrate, although the Childrens Court can also be constituted by a Judge.
QCAT is an independent administrative tribunal that deals with disputes about many different things, such as rental disputes, guardianship, debts, anti-discrimination, blue cards appeals and fences.
You can apply to QCAT to review some decisions made by Child Safety Services, including decisions about who a child lives with, where a child lives and what contact they have with their parents.
The Family Courts makes orders in relation to disputes between parents about parenting and contact with their children after separation.
They also make orders about property settlements following separations of married couples or defacto partners and applications to return children who have been wrongfully removed from their home country.
If there are child protection proceedings under way, the Family Courts will usually require a ‘statement of position’ from Child Safety Services before they will make orders about parenting. In some circumstances, Child Safety Services may decide to intervene in the proceedings to provide the Court with relevant information.
They also make orders about property settlement after separation and divorce.
Most applications to the Family Courts for orders about parenting orders start with mediations such through the Family Relationship Centres.
These are the higher levels of courts in Queensland. They both hear appeals from lower courts, serious criminal cases and disputes involving large amounts of money.