An affidavit is a document that contains facts that you swear under oath or affirm are true.
You can use an affidavit instead of giving evidence to the judge as a witness. A good affidavit has just enough important information to help the judge make a decision.
But there are strict rules about:
- how it should be written,
- what it can include, and
- how it's sworn or affirmed.
It's important to get it right, so here are some tips to help you.
What do you say in an affidavit?
The affidavit is your evidence. The three most important rules about what you write in it are:
- Tell the truth.
- Stick to the facts.
- Only include things 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 find yourself in serious trouble if turns out you didn't tell the truth.
Stick to the facts
Only include facts that you have first-hand knowledge of. That means you can only write down what you:
- did, or
If you're about to start a sentence with "I believe that" or "I think that," don't write it in the affidavit.
But there are a few times where it's okay to say something like "I believe that":
- Sometimes an expert (for example, a mental health professional or an accountant) will have to write an affidavit for someone's case. If they do, they're allowed to include an opinion because they're being asked to write what they think as an expert.
- You can quote something you heard another person involved in the case say, but you have to be the one who heard them say it. If you do this, 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 if you're not sure).
- If your affidavit is part of a Supreme Court Chambers application for an interim order, you can include information that you don't have first-hand knowledge of. For example, you could write: "My son's teacher, Mary Oakes, told me on or about November 23, 2013, that my son did not attend school on October 28, 29, 30, or 31, and I believe this to be true." But if you do this, you have to write down how you found out about it. The three things you need to include if you do this are:
- who told you,
- when they told you, and
- that you believe what they said is true.
Sometimes you can write down something your child said. Courts often let people do this so they don't need to call the child as a witness.
Only include things relevant (related) to your case
Don't write anything that isn't directly related to your case. For example, you don't need to list every single argument you and the other person had while you were together. See the seven tips for more about this.
Seven tips for writing affidavit statements
Here are seven tips to help you write an affidavit to prove your case.
1. Stay calm and fair:
- Avoid opinions and conclusions even if they're based on facts. For example:
- Instead of: He was drinking before he arrived at the house.
- Write: When he arrived, he smelled strongly of alcohol and was slurring his words.
- Avoid descriptions of how you felt or reacted. For example:
- Instead of: I was shocked to discover her new boyfriend had stayed overnight.
- Write: Her new boyfriend has stayed at the house overnight.
- Avoid arguing. For example:
- Instead of: It's unfair that he gets to see the kids even though he's behind in his child support payments.
- Write: He's three months behind in his child support payments. He sees the children three times during the week and every other weekend.
- Avoid legal arguments, For example:
- Instead of: Under the child support guidelines, he should be paying me $500 a month.
- Write: His guideline income is $54,000.
- Avoid words like "always," "never," or "all the time." For example:
- Instead of: He always forgets about special occasions.
- Write: He forgot about our son's birthday last year and this year.
- Avoid guessing about someone's state of mind. For example:
- Instead of: She needs mental health treatment.
- Write: She was crying when she came to pick up the children last week and the week before.
- Avoid making accusations about lying or stealing. For example:
- Instead of: He took $40 from my wallet.
- Write: I left $40 on the table by the front door. I noticed it was gone after he picked up the children.
2. Stay focused:
- Only include information that's relevant (connected) to what you're asking the court to decide on. The affidavit starts with a general background section, but you don't need to include every detail about your relationship and every argument you've had.
- In a court case, information is considered relevant only if it can be used to prove or disprove an important fact or issue in your case. See What to include in an affidavit or bring to court to help you figure out:
- what to include in the background section and
- what's relevant to your case.
3. Use plain language:
- You don't need to use complicated or legal-sounding language.
- Write simply and use short sentences.
4. Keep your details concise (short) and directly related to what you're asking the judge to order.
5. Be organized and tidy:
- Use the checklist of What to include in an affidavit or bring to court to help you organize your information. Headings and subheadings can be helpful.
- 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.
6. 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.
7. Use "I" instead of "the claimant," "he/she," or "they" as much as you can. This will help you stick to the rules about facts and relevance.
What do the forms look like?
The affidavits look different for each court. See our Court forms page to find links to blank forms.
See also our sample affidavit to see what a completed affidavit looks like.
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. If you look at the left-hand margin of these forms, you'll see tips on what to write in the form.
Supreme Court affidavits look a bit more complicated. Look at our sample affidavit to see how it looks with all the information filled in.
How to fill in a Supreme Court affidavit
The first part of a Supreme Court affidavit is called the style of proceeding.
This is where you write:
- the court file number,
- the name of court registry,
- 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).
Start with the top right-hand corner. The information you write here will 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
After that, fill in all the details about:
- your name,
- the other person's name, and
- who's the applicant and respondent.
Then you fill in the deponent's statement. The deponent's statement is the part that says: "I, Jane Doe of 123 Oak Street, Victoria, BC, teacher, SWEAR (OR AFFIRM) THAT:"
The person who writes the affidavit is called the deponent. You need to put in your occupation (your job) to help identify you.
Next 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.
Swear the affidavit
To swear or affirm your affidavit, take it to a lawyer, notary public, or commissioner for taking affidavits.
Sometimes courthouse staff will swear affidavits. Call your local courthouse to find out if they'll do this for you.
If you're going to a lawyer or notary public, call them first to:
- make sure they can swear or affirm the affidavit for you, and
- ask how much they charge.
See Who can swear an affidavit? to find out more about who can swear your affidavit.
When 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 license you can use a passport, permanent residency card, or BCID.
The person who swears the documents for you has to be sure you are who you say you are. After they identify you, they'll ask if:
- you've read the affidavit, and
- you swear (or affirm) that the contents are true to the best of your knowledge and belief.
You answer yes, sign the affidavit, and then the person witnesses your signature.
The lawyer, notary, or commissioner has to:
- print their name below their signature, or
- use an ink stamp of their name.
If the judge believes your affidavit is false or misleading, they won't accept your evidence. It's a serious matter to make a false or misleading affidavit.
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. If there is a hearing, the judge will likely require you to swear or affirm your affidavits at the hearing.
However, the person who served the documents must swear or affirm an Affidavit of Personal Service (before giving it to you to file) if they won't be attending the hearing.
If you want the judge to see a document that supports a statement you've made in your affidavit:
- 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.
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 respondent that said he would not be taking the children over Christmas break as we had agreed. That letter 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.
- Since the respondent did not show up for the agreed to parenting time, I had to cancel my trip and was not able to get a refund. Receipts for my costs are attached as Exhibit C.
A character reference (a letter from someone saying you're a good person) isn't a proper exhibit.
When you take the affidavit to the commissioner for taking affidavits to be sworn, you have to take all your exhibits. The commissioner has to identify each exhibit referred to in the affidavit. To do this, they sign a certificate that they stamp on the exhibit. The wording on the certificate looks like this: "This is Exhibit A referred to in the affidavit of Jane Doe sworn (or affirmed) before me on 30/Oct/2014."
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.
Just like affidavits, each exhibit has to be short and to the point. The judge can only look at what's relevant. So you wouldn't include a long email chain, for example, since much of what is included in that might not be relevant. Find the most important part and just refer to that.
If someone has first-hand knowledge of the facts that the court needs to make a decision in your case, they have to make and swear an affidavit of their own.