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How to Write a Declaration

Posted by Sarterus Rowe | Aug 03, 2020 | 0 Comments

Writing good declarations is a key to winning at court. You MUST follow the required rules and keep to the relevant facts.

WHAT IS A DECLARATION?

A Declaration is a written statement you swear under penalty of perjury is the truth.  You use Declarations to support motions you are filing, or as part of your response to a motion.  The information in a declaration will help the judge make a decision on the motion.  Anything the judge needs to know to make a decision at a hearing must be in a declaration for most motions.  A declaration can help you:

  tell your side of the story

  explain your requests

  give needed facts to the count

  respond to someone else's arguments

Declarations may also include exhibits, which are attachments that support your claims

WRITING YOUR DECLARATION:  CHECKLIST OF LEGAL REQUIREMENTS

Washington State has rules for the format and content of a declaration.  If your declarations do not follow these rules, the court clerk may refuse to file them or may make you pay a fine. There may also be local court rules you must follow!!

You Must:

Use regular size (8 1/2 x 11") white paper.

Use only one side of the paper.

Leave 3 inches of space at the top of page 1.

The other margins must be at least one inch wide.

Use black or dark blue written or typed.

The caption at the top of the first page must include:

     ○ the case number,

     ○ the court's name,

     ○ and the court paper's title,

declation header exp

State the age of the person making the declaration is over 18

Conclude the Declaration with:  “I declare under penalty of perjury, under the laws of the State of Washington, that the foregoing is true and correct.”

Final line:  “Signed at (city, state) on (date).”

Sign the declaration

Recommendations:

Just below the caption, type "DECLARATION OF (YOUR NAME)"

Just below that, the body of your Declaration begins in regular font, beginning with the numeral one, as follows:  1.  I am (age):____years old and I am the (check one)  [_] Petitioner  [_] Respondent  [_] Other (relationship to the people in this case):

Next, include the numeral two, and write the first thing you declare, beginning with the simple words, "I declare."  Example:  "2. I declare:  I was present at (address) on (date) when (event) took place."

Divide each main idea or event in your Declaration into separate numbered paragraphs. 

WHAT IS AN EXHIBIT?

An Exhibit is a document of written proof attached to a declaration that helps prove what the declaration says.  Such proof may be records such as bills, school records, medical records, or police records.  If you make statements in your Declaration that could require proof, you should attach a copy of the bill labeled Exhibit 1, for instance, and be sure to make reference to Exhibit 1 at the end of the paragraph in your Declaration that pertains to the statement you need to prove.

PRACTICAL TIPS ON WRITING A DECLARATION

Declarations should be as short as possible! 

Stick to the main points

Most important points should be first 

Leave out anything unrelated to the motion

Explain how well you know the parties, and for how long (if relevant)

The declaration MUST be based on your own personal knowledge, not what someone else told you, except in instances where there is a need to describe what another party (not another witness) said to you.

Type your declarations if possible

Be specific.  Broad statements like "the other party is a bad parent" is of little help.  Descriptions of specific actions or inaction where expected help the judge to understand.

Me very specific about

date,

time, and

sequence of actions 

Explain events in a chronological order

Use headings to organize the declaration

Proof-read your declaration.

Have a friend read it to make sure it makes sense

Follow the court's instructions about using sealed cover sheets to protect confidential information.



More information on Declarations for Family Law on Washington Law Help, PDF

Written on 8-3-2020, the law may have changed after this date.



CC - BY InclusiveLaw.org
This article was written by Doug Barrett and reviewed by Sarterus Rowe WSBA 47010

About the Author

Sarterus Rowe

Executive Director – Sarterus Rowe Sart Rowe is a litigator, professor, techie and Social Justice Wizard leading Law for All. He is also a former Chairman of the Board for Washington Lawyers for the Arts and a current board member of the Northwest Consumer Law Center.  Sart teaches as an adjun...

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