Affidavits are prevalent in law, business, finance, and more. They can be used in situations such as child support claims in court, to affirm your authority to act for a corporation, or to confirm your identity.
Despite their widespread, frequent use, many of us don’t know what an Affidavit is, how they are used, or how to write one. In this post, we dive into the purpose of Affidavits and provide a simple guide on how to write one for your situation.
What is an Affidavit?
An Affidavit, sometimes called a sworn statement, is a statement of facts written under oath. They’re written by someone who has knowledge that something is true and are often provided as evidence to support some type of assertion.
For instance, an Affidavit could:
- Detail an event (like if you were sexually harassed by a coworker) that you wish to submit as evidence for a court case
- Establish your right to an inheritance
- Verify your residential address
- Formally record financial aspects of your business
- Confirm you served (or were served) with legal documents
Statutory Declarations are similar to Affidavits in that they outline facts for a certain institution (like a bank) but are often used for matters outside of court (for example, if you need to provide a statement for your immigration visa application).
How Do You Write an Affidavit?
Although there isn’t just one way to write an Affidavit, they are commonly styled and structured in the same manner.
In many instances, Affidavits are like stories told from your perspective. They use “I” statements and full sentences to outline facts, such as “I worked for this company for four years”.
Your statement will often begin with a brief background about yourself and the reasons you are creating your Affidavit.
For example, if you are writing an Affidavit to support your claim for alimony, pertinent background information would be how long you were married, how long you and your spouse lived together, your age, what you do for work, and other similar details depending on your relationship.
After your background information, you lay out the important facts in chronological order. A good approach is to include one fact per paragraph. This will make it easier to discuss a particular section, if and when you’re required to.
The number of facts you include is based on your situation.
For example, if you are simply confirming your identity, you probably won’t need four pages of facts. On the other hand, an Affidavit relating to child custody might require multiple pages of information.
If you have additional proof of your situation (like a bank statement or an email), you can include it as an exhibit, which is affixed to the end of your document just like an appendix.
After your Affidavit is written, depending on your jurisdiction and the purpose of your Affidavit, your document is commissioned or notarized and then ready to use or file.
What If Someone Lies in Their Affidavit?
You could be wondering, if Affidavits rely on someone submitting personal knowledge as true facts, what stops someone from lying?
Submitting false facts under oath is perjury and could result in financial penalties and even jail time.
A prominent example of perjury is when rapper Lil’ Kim, as a witness to a gunfight, lied about who was involved in the situation. Once security footage determined she lied about what she saw, she was sentenced to one year in jail and asked to pay a $50,000 fine.
As you can see, there are consequences to lying in your Affidavit, so it’s important to be truthful in order to avoid fines or conviction.
Writing Your Affidavit for Your Situation
Now that you have a grasp of what an Affidavit is and how they are written, you’re ready to create yours.
Remember, no two Affidavits will look the same, so just make sure yours contains all the information it needs for your situation. If you’re unsure if you’ve written your document properly, be sure to get it reviewed by a local attorney.