A contract refers to a legally enforceable agreement between two or more parties, which can be a person or a corporation, that creates an obligation to do or not do something. Contracts typically involve parties who are competent to enter a contract, and a mutual agreement between these parties. Some contracts must be in writing. Although rules vary by state, most contracts involve real estate or goods worth more than $500, and require a year or more to complete.
When one of the parties breaks the terms of an agreement this is called a "breach." If the non-breaching party sues they can ask the court to "enforce" the contract. This may result in a court order for the breaching party to uphold their end of the contract or they might require payment for the breach if damages are determinable and more easily put the non-breaching party in a position to receive the benefit they sought in the contract.
When a breach of contract occurs and one or both parties wishes to have the contract enforced on its terms, and attempts at informal resolution have failed, the aggrieved party can file a lawsuit in the appropriate civil court. In some cases parties will attempt mediation before a lawsuit is filed. A party that is successful in mediation or court may be granted specific performance (an order commanding the breaching party to hold up their end of the agreement) or one of a number of different kinds of damages including compensatory damages, punitive damages, nominal damages, liquidated damages, or restitution.