What is an affidavit?

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.

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.

What’s the purpose of an affidavit?

When you use an 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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