Completing an affidavit for a friend's custody hearing
January 27, 2011 2:31 PM   Subscribe

How do I best complete an affidavit to support a friend who is seeking custody of her child?

A friend of mine is going through a divorce. They have a young, school-aged child.

A temporary custody hearing is coming up. I was asked to complete an affidavit as to what I have witnessed regarding her relationship with her child and how much time the dad has spent with the child.

How does one complete an affidavit like this? I was thinking of writing how long I've know my friend, and what our typical interactions were like (going out for a meal, dad nowhere in sight; hanging out at home, dad nowhere in sight; etc).

I understand I am only to write about what I personally observed or heard. Can anyone give any advice to me so that this affidavit is most useful to my friend and the court?

Do I need to include any information about myself, besides what is asked for in the affidavit (name, address, phone number)? I don't know, for instance, if I need to write about my employment history to establish my credibility.

What can I expect from completing this affidavit, if anything? If her attorney submits it to court, will the judge call me?
posted by FergieBelle to Law & Government (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Speak to her attorney about what information they want you to include.

I would write positive things about my friend as a mother, rather than focusing on the negative things about this child's father.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:40 PM on January 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm not licensed in your jurisdiction, but in my jurisdiction, I see a lot of these and they're not particularly helpful to judges unless they are relevant to the particular issue. Unless you know what her issue is, a general "she's a good parent, he's a schmuck" affidavit from someone who is probably more her friend than his isn't much help. I would suggest your friend be willing to pay for the lawyer to draft an affidavit based on either your own letter to him or an interview with you.

Talk to your friend about whether you can write down your observations and send them to the attorney who can write an affidavit based on it. The benefit is that it's got a better chance of having what her lawyer needs without distractions and irrelevancies, and then you just have to review it to make sure it's all true and not misleading in any way.
posted by Hylas at 2:44 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you're a parent be sure to mention that. If you have any formal training or work experience that's relevant mention that too. If, for instance, you have a degree in psych or education, or you've worked in some therapeutic or educational capacity, that should be mentioned. You don't have to say anything negative about the dad, just that he's not there when you are. If he's at work when you're with this mom and kid it's meaningless, but if you're with your friend when he's not at work and he seems to always be off doing something else, then it's relevant.
posted by mareli at 3:50 PM on January 27, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice so far.

Hylas, I would much prefer to go your route, but this is due tomorrow, so I don't think I'll have time.

But I will call the attorney and see if I can get some guidance.
posted by FergieBelle at 3:51 PM on January 27, 2011

Did the attorney request that you write this? Affidavits have a somewhat limited role in most areas of the legal system -- they are submitted to show that one COULD produce a witness saying this or that, and once one has made that showing one may avoid a dismissal and is allowed to proceed with the suit and actually call the witness, etc.

But as substantive proof in a hearing, they are usually not accepted because they are not subject to cross examination and are thus hearsay. Maybe your state allows them in temporary hearings, I don't know, but make sure the attorney needs an affidavit before you put a lot of work into it.
posted by jayder at 3:56 PM on January 27, 2011

Speaking as a former divorce attorney, better practice is for the attorney to schedule a meeting with the affiant (you) and then walk through what you know about the facts, draft an affidavit for your review based on what the attorney believes a judge will look for/rely upon in temporary custody affidavits (see first 2 answers above), you review it/change as needed, and then finalize/sign it. IANYL.
posted by webhund at 6:35 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

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