The difference between civil and criminal litigation is the type of matter at hand. Civil cases comprise of domestic matters, or disagreements between private persons, and can involve either individuals, businesses, or the government. Criminal cases concern a crime or statutory violation that may have been committed by the defendant, and consist of an individual versus the government.
Both proceedings are similar in that the parties involved present their argument to a judge, in either state or federal court, the judge then analyzes the evidence both parties have presented to the court, and then a verdict is issued based on that evidence.
Most family matters are civil in nature, although criminal charges are sometimes filed in domestic violence situations and sometimes contempt of court can be criminal in nature. Many people do not realize that a divorce is a civil lawsuit. Divorces in Florida are tried before a judge, and not before juries.