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Sworn or affirmed? It’s your choice.

Sworn Or Affirmed

Quick Summary

  • When you give evidence in a courtroom or by affidavit, you will need to either swear or affirm that the evidence you give is true and correct.
  • ‘Swearing’ refers to taking an oath by God on the Bible or other religious text that you are telling the truth.
  • ‘Affirming’ refers to a declaration that you are telling the truth.
  • Both methods for declaring truth carrying the same weight and have no difference in legal consequence.

Introduction

Whenever you appear as a witness in a courtroom, or file an affidavit or statutory declaration with the Court, you will likely be asked: “Are you swearing or affirming?” If you’ve ever been left stumped by the question, or you’re just wanting to know the legal difference between the two, read on.

What’s the difference?

So, what does it mean to ‘swear’? Swearing refers to taking a religious oath. If a person believes in God (or other religious deity or supernatural being), they can swear by their god that they are telling the truth. For this, a person will hold the Bible (or other religious text) in their right hand and say a promise by their god that they are telling the truth in the witness of their God.

As a deponent, you will say words to the effect of ‘I swear that the evidence I give is true, so help me God’.

Alternatively, what is an ‘affirmation’? Affirming the evidence which you give has the same legal effect as an oath sworn by the Bible, but it does not refer to God or have any religious connection. In essence, an affirmation is a declaration of truth that the contents of the legal document are correct, accurate and true.

When making your affirmation, an authorised witness will ask you a question to the effect of: ‘Do you solemnly and sincerely and truly declare and affirm that the contents of this affidavit are true and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief?’. As the deponent, you will then respond by saying: ‘I do’.

Which option should I choose?

Any person may choose to take an affirmation instead of an oath. It is entirely up to each individual. Ultimately, whichever way you choose to declare the truth of the contents of your evidence, there is no legal difference.

Both swearing and affirming carry the same weight and have the same legal consequence, and both require you to declare the evidence you give is truthful. The only tangible difference is the religious component. If a person has religious beliefs, they will generally take an oath. Where a person does not believe in any god, they will take an affirmation.

Need help with an affidavit?

If you have a family law matter which requires you to produce affidavit evidence, then our friendly team of lawyers can help with the drafting. To enquire about our services, give our team a call today on 1800 357 000.

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