Some evidence is spoken aloud in court, and some evidence is presented in writing. Written evidence is called an affidavit.
An affidavit is your statement of facts about your case – your evidence. You sign the bottom of the statement to confirm that what you’ve written is true.
A good affidavit has all the important information a judge needs to make a decision.
There are some rules about how to write an affidavit.
What do you say in an affidavit?
The affidavit is your evidence. You must:
- Tell the truth.
- Stick to the facts, not opinions.
- Only include things that are relevant (related) to your case.
Tell the truth
If the judge believes your affidavit is false or misleading:
- they won't accept your evidence, and
- you could be in trouble if you didn't tell the truth.
Stick to the facts
Focus on facts that you know about first-hand. That means you write down what you:
- did, or
You can talk about what you know from second-hand information, but you have to be able to show that this information is reliable. Have that person write an affidavit, too, if possible.
If you write down what you heard another person say, you must also write down:
- the name of the person, and
- the date they said what you're quoting in court (or your best memory of that date). For example:
- Sometime in the summer of 2018, I heard my ex-mother-in-law talking about my child’s father getting a big raise and buying a new car. I saw the father driving a new car later that summer.
- My child’s father is very close to his mother, and she would know about his finances and new job.
If you write down what another person said to you, you must also write down:
- the name of the person
- the date when they told you (or your best memory of that date if you're not sure), and
- that you believe what they said is true. For example:
- My ex-mother-in-law told me that I should not go after the father for more money just because he got a big raise
- My child’s father is very close to his mother, and she would know about his finances and new job.
You can write down what your child said to you, what you overheard them say, or what you found out from other people like teachers, counsellors, friends, or other parents. Courts often let people do this so they don't need to call the child as a witness. For example:
- The teacher at school told me that my child often has no lunch when her dad brings her to school and looks like she is very tired.
If someone has first-hand knowledge of the facts that the court needs to make a decision in your case, encourage them to write an affidavit of what they know. For example, if they are a neighbour and saw the father and child coming home very late whenever the child is with the father.
Writing affidavit statements
Here are some tips to help you write an affidavit to prove your case.
Stay calm and fair
Don’t use opinions or conclusions even if they're based on facts. For example:
- Write: When he arrived, he smelled strongly of alcohol and was slurring his words.
- Instead of: He was drinking before he arrived at the house.
If you had an emotional reaction to something that happened, explain how and why you felt that way. Don’t use disrespectful language. For example:
- Write: Her new boyfriend has stayed at the house overnight while my child was there. I was not happy about this because I have never met the boyfriend.
- Instead of: I was shocked to discover her new boyfriend had stayed overnight. She seems to love dating more than her child.
- Write: He's three months behind in his child support payments. He sees the children three times during the week and every other weekend.
- Instead of: It's unfair that he gets to see the kids even though he's behind in his child support payments.
Don’t use words like "always," "never," or "all the time"
- Write: The father often cancels without notice or doesn’t come for his visits with our son. The log I keep shows that this happens about 50 percent of the time. Our son looks forward to these visits and gets upset for days after his father misses a visit.
- Instead of: The father never shows up for visits. He is a terrible father who deliberately hurts our child.
Don’t guess about someone's state of mind
- Write: She was crying when she came to pick up the children last week and the week before.
- Instead of: She needs mental health treatment.
Don’t accuse someone of lying or stealing
- Write: I had $40 in my wallet on the table by the front door. I noticed it was gone after he picked up the children.
- Instead of: He took $40 from my wallet.
Get your details right
When you’re trying to decide what to include, think about:
Give exact dates and dollar amounts wherever you can. If you can't remember, make your best guess.
Be organized and tidy
See What to include in an affidavit or bring to court to help you organize your information.
Use headings and subheadings to put related information together.
- Put each fact or piece of information in its own paragraph.
- Number each paragraph and list the facts:
- in chronological order (the order they happened), or
- by topic.
- Number all the pages.
- Check your affidavit for spelling mistakes or typos.
- If you've handwritten your affidavit, the judge has to be able to read your writing.
- Only include information that can be used to prove or disprove an important fact or issue in your case. Don't include every detail.
- Information is considered relevant only if it helps you figure out:
- what to include in the background section and
- what's relevant to your case.
What do the forms look like?
The affidavits look different for each court. See our Court forms page to find links to blank PDF forms that you can download and fill in.
Click the name of the court you're using to get more information.
The format of these affidavits is already set out on the form. You just fill in the blanks for these sections:
- Court File Number/FMEP Case Number/Court Location
- Case name
- Name, occupation and current address for service of the person filing this affidavit
- What is the affidavit for?
Then add your information beside "What are the facts?" using numbered paragraphs. The left margin of the form has tips about what to write in the form.
Look at our sample Supreme Court affidavit to see how it looks with all the information filled in.
How to fill in a Supreme Court affidavit
- In the top right corner, you enter information to help the court identify your affidavit. (You'll have to keep track of the number of affidavits you fill out in your family law case and number them in order. The date will be the date that you get the affidavit sworn or affirmed.)
Fill it in like this:
This is the 2nd affidavit of Jane Doe in
this case and was made on 30/Oct/2018
Court File No.: copy this from your Notice of Family Claim
Court Registry: copy this from your Notice of Family Claim
- The next part is called the style of proceeding.
This is where you fill in:
- the names of the people involved (the parties), and
- your roles (claimant and respondent).
Copy this information from the court document that started your family law case. This is usually the Notice of Family Claim (Form F3) or Notice of Joint Family Claim (Form F1).
- The person who writes the affidavit is called the deponent. Fill in the deponent's statement. This is the part that says: "I, Jane Doe of 123 Oak Street, Victoria, BC, teacher, SWEAR (OR AFFIRM) THAT:"
- Put in your occupation (your job) to help identify you.
- Say that you believe what's in your affidavit is true. For example, you could write: "I know or believe the following facts to be true. If my belief about facts is based on information from others, I have named the source of the information, and I believe that information to be true."
- Write why you've submitted the affidavit. Use paragraphs and number them. Click the green Add button to start a new numbered paragraph.
Swear the affidavit
Courthouse staff will swear or affirm your affidavit, usually for free. Call your local courthouse to find out if they'll do this for you. Or you can pay a lawyer, notary public, or commissioner for taking affidavits to swear or affirm your affidavit. See Who can swear an affidavit for more information.
- you have signed the affidavit; and
- you can’t get a lawyer, notary, or someone at the courthouse to sign the affidavit.
This rule applies to:
- Financial statements (Form 4)
- Guardianship affidavits (Form 5)
- Protection Order affidavits (Form 12)
- Any general affidavit (Form 45)
- make sure they can swear the affidavit for you, and
- ask how much they charge and how they take payment.
If you go to have the affidavit sworn or affirmed, take government-issued photo identification with you. Your driver's licence is perfect for this. If you don’t have a driver’s licence you can use a passport, permanent residency card, or BCID.
If you have to change the affidavit after it's been sworn, you'll have to:
- make the change in handwriting,
- initial each change,
- ask the person who swore the affidavit to initial each change, and
- get the affidavit re-signed and re-sworn.
During COVID-19, you don't need to swear or affirm most affidavits that you're filing in a Provincial Court matter. This includes the Financial Statement (Form 4). But you do need to make sure that any affidavit you prepare and file is true and accurate. If there is a hearing, the judge will likely require you to swear or affirm the truth of your affidavits at the hearing.
Exhibits (your evidence)
If you want the judge to see a document that supports a statement you've made in your affidavit, you must:
- refer to it in your affidavit, and
- attach the document to your affidavit as an exhibit.
Exhibits can be all sorts of things: a text message, email, photograph, or a receipt, for example. A character reference (a letter from someone saying you're a good person) isn't a proper exhibit, because it’s an opinion, not a fact.
When you refer to an exhibit in your affidavit, you have to tell the judge about it. For example:
- On October 30, I received an email from the father that said he would not be taking the children over Christmas break as we had agreed. A printout of that email is attached to this affidavit as Exhibit A.
- Daughter has been doing well in school and I attach her report cards for the 2018 school year as Exhibit B.
Just like affidavits, exhibits must be short and to the point. The judge can only look at what's relevant. If you have a long document, find the most important part and just refer to that.
If you have more than one exhibit, mark them A, B, C, etc., in order, and arrange them alphabetically. Number the pages of each exhibit starting from page 1.
When you take the affidavit to be sworn, take all your exhibits, too. The commissioner has to stamp and sign each exhibit to certify it.
Court forms seem daunting, but it's just a matter of filling in certain facts. Take them one question at a time.