Civil law is a body of rules that defines and protects the private rights of citizens, offers legal remedies that may be sought in a dispute, and is divided into four main categories: contract law, tort law, property law, and family law.
Contract law deals with agreements between two or more parties, each of which is obligated to hold up their portion of the agreement. Generally speaking, contracts may be oral or written, however there are certain types of contracts that must be put in writing.
Tort law is a branch of civil law that is concerned with personal injury and civil wrongdoing. A tort is a civil wrong, done by one person or entity to another which results in injury or property damage, and frequently involves monetary compensation to the injured party. There are three categories of torts: negligence, intentional tort, and strict liability. Negligence is an unintentional tort, to which there are four elements that must be satisfied: duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. An intentional tort is a deliberate wrongdoing in which the defendant acted with intent to cause harm or injury. And lastly, strict liability is a tort that does not require actual negligence or intent to injure. It is based on an absolute or "strict" duty to ensure something is safe. Strict liability frequently comes into play with hazardous activities.
Property law covers both personal property and real property. Personal property can be tangible, such as jewelry, animals, and merchandise, or intangible such as patents, copyrights, stocks, and bonds. Real property refers to land and anything built on it that cannot be easily removed, as well as anything under the surface of the land, such as oil and minerals.
Family law is the branch of civil law that deals with marriage, divorce, annulment, child custody, adoption, birth, child support, and any other issues affecting families. The family court gets involved with dividing up property and finances after a divorce, establishing child custody, child support, and spousal support among other things.