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Many people, not just self represented parties, are confused about whether they should swear or affirm an Affidavit.
When you sign an affidavit, you need to ‘attest’ to the truth of its contents.
You ‘attest’ to the truth of the contents of an affidavit by either ‘swearing’ or ‘affirming’ it.
If you have religious beliefs, whether or not you attend church regularly, you will usually “swear” your affidavit.
When an affidavit is sworn, it means that you are solemnly promising to tell the truth.
To swear an Affidavit you hold a bible or other religious text in your hand, or place your hand on a bible or religious text.
You do this at same the time as you swear the contents of your affidavit and you do it in the presence of one of the following people who will witness the document for you:
You say words similar to "I swear the contents of my Affidavit are true and correct, so help me God".
Some people do have religious beliefs but will not take religious oaths, because they consider them to be blasphemous, for example, some Orthodox Jews will not take religious oaths, nor will some Christians.
Some people will not take a religious oath on the Christian Bible, for example, Muslims or some Orthodox Jews.
If having a document sworn is against your religious beliefs or you do not have any religious beliefs, you can take an affirmation instead.
An affirmation means that you are affirming that the document you have made and are now signing is the truth.
You also affirm your Affidavit in the presence of the Commissioner for Declarations, Justice of the Peace, Solicitor or Barrister who will witness the document for you, saying particular words to affirm that the contents of your Affidavit are true and correct.
The Court does not attach any weight or significance to the method of attestation you choose.
It does not matter whether you choose to take a religious oath or an affirmation, but you should be consistent in using the same method each time you attest a document.
Your witness will usually say the necessary words for swearing or affirming an Affidavit to you in the form of a question, so you can simply answer "I do" or "Yes".
Michelle Beatty, Senior Lawyer
Other Questions answered in the Representing Yourself, Court Process & Procedure Section
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