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Who Is the Affiant When Signing an Affidavit?
Who is the affiant when signing an affidavit? Is it the witness to the signatures, or is it the clerk at the office to which you are submitting it?
Actually, neither one. The affiant is the person who swears to the truthfulness of the assertions that appear in the affidavit. It is the affiant’s signature that is notarized at the bottom of an affidavit.
What Is an Affidavit?
An affidavit is a written sworn statement of asserted facts by an affiant under oath. Key characteristics of an affidavit include:
A written statement or series of statements. These statements must be assertions of facts, not opinions.
The affiant swears that the statements are true to the best of their knowledge and belief.
The affiant must sign the affidavit in the presence of a notary public or someone else that the state authorizes to administer oaths. The affiant presents a valid ID, and the notary public affirms the identity of the affiant. The notary also confirms that the affiant’s signature on the affidavit was voluntary.
The state can penalize the affiant for knowingly making false statements on an affidavit. Perjury liability is possible, and so is prison time.
Only “material” false statements can lead to criminal liability. A statement is material if and only if it is important.
What Information Appears in an Affidavit?
Typically, an affidavit includes the following information:
The affiant’s name and address.
A series of numbered paragraphs.
A notary public certification.
The date and location of the affiant’s signature.
An affidavit is not valid until it is signed and notarized.
How Does the Legal System Use Affidavits?
In most cases, the law treats a statement appearing in an affidavit as evidence of the truth of the matter asserted. “I am responsible for the day-to-day living expenses of [another person],” for example.
In a perjury prosecution, the prosecution can use statements that appear in an affidavit as evidence of deceit. Always, always, always consult with a lawyer before you sign an affidavit.
Parties and Related Persons
Following is a list of parties to an affidavit, plus important related parties:
The affiant: The person who is asserting the facts contained in the affidavit.
The Notary Public: The licensed notary who confirms the affiant’s identity and voluntary signature.
“Witness to the Signatures”: Some affidavits include extra witnesses (in addition to the notary public).
“Person at the Office You Are Submitting To”: This person simply receives the affidavit and perhaps confirms that it meets the requirements of the purpose for which the affiant is submitting it.
An affidavit made in a state other than Florida might have to meet other legal requirements imposed by the state in which it was created. This might become relevant if, for example, a Florida divorce involves real property located in another state.
The Uses of Affidavits in Family Law
Following is a small sampling of some of the uses of affidavits in family law. Some of these uses, such as answers to interrogatories, apply to other areas of law as well.
The division of property in divorce settlements. This information must be accurate so that one spouse does not cheat the other.
Answers to interrogatories in pre-trial discovery proceedings.
The sale of property such as real estate and automobiles, especially in divorce-related property division.
A substitute for in-person testimony when a witness cannot appear personally.
Courts and administrative authorities use affidavits for many other purposes as well. Some of these uses may involve intersecting practice areas– for instance, immigration law and family law.
Don’t Use an Online Template, Hire a Family Lawyer Instead
Affidavits are critical legal documents. Unfortunately, a serious error in crafting an affidavit could result in criminal charges against you or, at least, unintended negative consequences. Never, ever pull a template affidavit off the Internet. Instead, hire a lawyer to draft the affidavit for you and advise you on its consequences.