One of the most challenging parts of the divorce process is stating your case for where the child should live. Most parents want some modicum of control over their children. If the divorce is contentious, then custody can become a central point of leverage for one or both of the parties. With this in mind, you may be required to write an affidavit that states your position on where the child should go and why. Here is a short primer on what should go in the affidavit and how to have the greatest impact when writing it.
What is an affidavit for child custody?
Generally speaking, an affidavit is a sworn statement, made in the presence of a notary, that allows the court to substantiate and validate factual claims made by some party. More specifically, in the context of a divorce, an affidavit for child custody is a legal filing made early on in a given case that states why one party or another believes a child should be placed in their custody. It’s your chance to outline reasons, under oath, for why you think the child is better off with you.
What should the affidavit include?
As you write this document, keep in mind that it has severe legal meaning and comes with consequences. Because it is a sworn statement to a court, it is given more credence than an out of court statement. However, the consequences for lying are greater, as you can be held responsible for perjury in some instances. Only facts should go in your affidavit.
You should include facts both about yourself and the other party. For instance, if you have been the primary caretaker, then let the court know examples of what you have done. At the same time, this is a good chance to outline the negative qualities that should preclude the other party from taking custody of the child. If you know, for instance, that your former spouse has a drinking or gambling problem, then you should state it in this affidavit. The affidavit should not be about your feelings or beliefs. Rather, you should be using a series of powerful verbs. Write about what you witnessed or know rather than what you feel.
Using the format specific to your state
An affidavit is a bit different than many legal writings because you can’t just submit a Microsoft Word document and gained the legal effect. You need to use the format prescribed by your state. You can usually go on the website for the court in question. In so doing, you’ll find a heading suitable for court filing, allowing you to insert your cause number and the names of the parties at the top. There may be specific language about how you are coming in front of the notary to make a sworn statement.
At the bottom of the page, the notary will swear that you were the person who made the statement. They will put their stamp on the page, making it official. This is what gives the document its legal heft and persuasive value.