A declaration is a written statement, or in court, written testimony, made under penalty of perjury. It is the same as providing testimony on the witness stand. There are some circumstances where the family court may decide a case partially or entirely upon written declarations alone, without hearing any live testimony. Many judicial officers rely heavily on written declarations, and this has increased since the spread of Covid-19.
Declarations are read by judges, court mediators, the other spouse, and the other attorney in family court. If a declaration is clear, concise, and backed with evidence, it may help to outstanding issues before they go before the judge.
It is necessary to attach a declaration explaining any requests for relief and facts supporting those requests when filing or responding to a “Request for Order” (RFO). For example, in a family law case, one may write a declaration in order to:
- Give background information or tell their side of the story;
- Explain any requests and reasons for proposing those requests;
- Provide additional needed information or explain specific problems; and
- Respond to the opposing party’s requests or declarations.
Declarations are subject to the rules of evidence, just like oral testimony. To ensure any written statements are taken into the court’s consideration, abide by the following list of tips when drafting your declaration for the family court.
Tips for Writing a Declaration for the California Family Court
- Follow the California Rules of Court. A declaration and a responsive declaration are both limited to ten pages. Keep any points brief and clear. Sometimes less really is more!
- Write your own declaration. Use your own words. This is your opportunity to speak directly to the court so get to the point and state the facts of your case, any requests, or any responses to a request in as precise a manner as possible.
- Avoid speaking ill of the other party. You can state the facts objectively without using inflammatory and accusatory language. Communicating respectfully towards the create creates goodwill on your behalf and makes you appear to be a more credible, logical witness to any current circumstances.
- Only include evidence or testimony about which you have direct personal knowledge. You are under oath and perjuring yourself with only discredit you and your position before the court.
- Narrow down your demands to those that are reasonable and matter in the long term. Settle simple issues outside of the courtroom with the help of your attorney. Review your requests with your attorney to ensure they are grantable under the law.
- Use bullet points to help you summarize your key issues or requests. These can help to keep you and track and organize your arguments by importance for the court.
- Include evidence to support your declaration. Attach any copies of emails, pictures, pay stubs, school records, text messages, or other documents as exhibits to support the points in your declaration. Refer to the documents in your declaration and do not alter the documents.
- Do not repeat yourself. Your space and the court’s time are limited. Do not waste either re-emphasizing points.
- Use a template to help you create your declaration. These are available on the California Courts website.
- Consult an experienced Los Angeles family lawyer for help creating or finalizing your declaration.
An Experienced California Child Custody Attorney Can Help You
For help clarifying your child custody issues and in drafting your declaration or response to the other party’s declaration, contact the experienced Los Angeles child custody attorneys at Fernandez & Karney. It is imperative you convey your desire to be an active participant in your child’s life to the court and the ideal form that participation might take.
Call Fernandez & Karney today and schedule your confidential consultation. Arm yourself with the knowledge and procedural facts needed to pursue a successful California custody case.