What is an affidavit?

Two people reviewing the terms of an affidavit together.

Learn more about the definition of an affidavit, its purpose in court proceedings, and examples of when you might use one.

From family law and bankruptcy matters to civil and criminal cases, affidavits are common legal documents used in a variety of court proceedings. And when used, it’s just like taking an oath in court. Let’s dive into what an affidavit is, its purposes, and examples of instances when you might use one.

Affidavit definition.

An affidavit is a sworn statement put in writing. When you use an affidavit, you’re claiming that the information within the document is true and correct to the best of your knowledge.

Like taking an oath in court, an affidavit is only valid when you make it voluntarily and without any coercion. There is no age limit for creating and using affidavits, but you must be of sound mind and understand what you’re signing.

Affidavits can occur any time a formal promise is made, and they are often used as a form of documentation tied to a specific person in the proceedings. They are often used in court to serve as evidence toward a singular side in a dispute, or to affirm a claim that someone is making.

If you knowingly sign an affidavit that contains false information you could risk losing your case, as well as face a potential charge of perjury.

Understanding affidavit meanings and what a notarized affidavit means can help you avoid missteps and have a better overall experience, ensuring that the affidavit form is as properly prepared and as accurate as possible.

How do you get an affidavit?

By traditional definition, an affiant is the one who prepares the affidavit. Anyone who is swearing to the truth of verbal or written statements included on the affidavit can be considered an affiant.

Once you write an affidavit, the next step can be as simple as printing out the relevant paperwork and getting it notarized. The purpose of doing this is to have a certified third-party acknowledge that you are who you say you are, further legitimizing your claim for presentation in formal government systems and courtroom proceedings.

Certain states may have different laws around their affidavit process. To ensure that everything has been done and submitted correctly, we recommend connecting with legal counsel for additional context and support.

Does an affidavit have to be notarized?

Generally speaking, all affidavits should be notarized to add additional legitimacy to the claims you’re making in the affidavit. However, different states have different legal requirements and preferences that should be considered before the affidavit is filed.

If you need to file an affidavit, we recommend speaking to a lawyer to determine if notarization is needed. You may choose to select a notary public for a formal in-person notary interview rather than online options, as not all online options are considered valid for certain applications.

What’s the purpose of an affidavit?

When you use any type of affidavit, you’re essentially writing a statement of facts to present to the court. For example, you may use an affidavit to notify a spouse about a change in financial circumstances after dissolution proceedings. Or, you may use one to verify residency, claim assets or property, or replace your original marriage certificate if you’ve lost it.

Once you have everything prepared and you’re ready to sign the documents, you must do it in front of witnesses while also having it notarized at the same time. In most states, banks will notarize affidavits for you and provide witnesses, but you can also use your own notary and witnesses.

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