Prepare an Effective Affidavit
Whether you have been asked to write an affidavit for your own case, or to serve as a witness in someone else's divorce or custody case, you will need to know how to write an effective, persuasive family court affidavit.
Your attorney will help you choose effective witnesses who may submit affidavits on your behalf. For example, in a custody case, affidavits may be submitted by family members, teachers, counselors, ministers or priests, coaches, or other people who have information or informed opinions about a parent's fitness to have custody.
Affidavits are written statements signed under oath in front of a notary public. All affidavits must be notarized. The person signing the affidavit must appear personally in front of the notary.
Affidavits can only contain information that the client or witness knows to be true or has good reason to believe to be true. Keep in mind that an affidavit is sworn testimony.
The affidavit should be typed in a standard twelve (12)-point font with at least 1.5 spacing.
A good affidavit will have the following:
Some brief biographical information: who the witness is and what the witness' relationship is to the parties or to the dispute. (For example, co-worker, teacher, aunt). This helps the judge understand how the witness came to know what he or she is testifying about, and helps make the witness and his/her affidavit more credible.
Next, the witness should include facts about which he or she has personal knowledge and that are relevant to the case at hand. If possible, include dates and times. If custody is the main issue about which a witness can testify, then the witness should offer information about what the parent does that makes him/her an actively involved and fit parent. For example, "I see Mr. Brown and his daughter at softball practice at least three times each week. Mr. Brown usually stays for the entire practice to cheer for his daughter and coach her on how to be a good teammate. Mr. Brown also brings drinks and snacks for the team once a week." This is much more effective than saying "Mr. Brown is a wonderful parent" because it shows what Mr. Brown actually does for his child.
Finally, end with a very short conclusion. This is where a witness might end with "Mr. Brown is a wonderful parent," because he or she has already presented facts that show why and how he is such a good father.
If a factual claim can be supported by a document, it may be a good idea to include the document with the affidavit and explain in the affidavit why the witness included the document. For example, if the witness claims that that the mother is the person who always attends parent-teacher conferences, attaching school records showing the mother's attendance at all the conferences for the current school year can be very powerful.
If possible, affidavits should be balanced. An affidavit that does nothing but tear down one party and make the other party out to be perfect is generally less credible.
Generally, we are limited to eight pages of affidavits, excluding exhibits, so brevity is important. Your Summerville divorce attorney can help you figure out the most important facts to highlight.
If you are not a current client and have further questions, please feel free to contact our Summerville divorce law firm to request a consultation. We routinely handle SC family court cases in Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester counties, as well as statewide.