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What is an Affidavit?

Updated on April 5, 2010

An affidavit is a written or printed statement or declaration of facts made voluntarily, under oath or by affirmation, before an officer, such as a notary public. It is used in applying' for a license or passport and also in legal proceedings, where the purpose is submission of facts to a court or an official agency. In the latter instance an affidavit is an ex parte statement (that is, made by, and for the benefit of, one side only) without notice to the opposing party and with no cross-examination.

Although the terms "affidavit" and "deposition" sometimes are used interchangeably, there is an important distinction between them concerning notice to the other party. A deposition is an affirmation under oath, particularly the testimony of a witness, in response to questions, and is made expressly upon notice to the adverse party so as to permit cross-examination.


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