How to prepare an Affidavit of Welfare in Matrimonial Proceedings in the Circuit or High Court
On our website you will see an earlier article which I prepared about how to prepare an Affidavit of Means in matrimonial proceedings. That Affidavit is, as the name suggests, all about the financial situation of the family unit. This article is all about another type of Affidavit that is required to be prepared, issued and served in matrimonial proceedings in the Circuit Court or the High Court, where there are dependent children of the marriage, and that is the Affidavit of Welfare.
The Affidavit of Welfare is really designed and intended to provide a ‘snapshot’ of the practical circumstances and living arrangements particular to the parties involved and their children. The Affidavit of Welfare is divided up into eight separate parts or sections and like the Affidavit of Means, is sworn testimony so the person swearing it must ensure that they are satisfied that it is accurate in every respect. The Affidavit is open to cross examination or enquiry at the hearing of legal proceedings.
What information is required to be included in the Affidavit of Welfare?
PART 1 – this is very simply the names and dates of birth of the children of the parties.
PART 2 – this section is designed to provide the accommodation details. The person swearing the Affidavit must provide details of the location, type and standard of the place of residence for the children. They must state whether the home is rented or owned. If owned, by whom? Who pays for the rent or mortgage? Is anyone else living in the premises? These are all largely, matters of fact. A question is posed at the end of this section as to whether there will be any change to the stated arrangements. This question is often more difficult to answer. People will often simply say to me that they do not know what the situation will be following an order for judicial separation or divorce. In those circumstances perhaps the only appropriate answer to provide is ‘unknown at this time’. This is something that I will talk through with a client and suitable details can be included to reflect each person’s particular circumstances.
PART 3 – this section deals with the education and training details of the children. School or college details. Whether or not the children have any special education or health needs. Whether there are fees to be paid and again, whether it is anticipated that there will be any change to these arrangements. Suitable and comprehensive details will need to be included in this section in order to accurately reflect the circumstances of the family arrangements.
PART 4 – this section addresses child care details. Who minds the children on a day to day basis? Work commitments of the parents? Any childminders/babysitters/creche arrangements? Care arrangements during school holidays and again the question is posed as to whether there will be any change to the existing arrangements. A possible response to this enquiry might be that change is anticipated or in the alternative, it may be the case that change is not anticipated. It may be the case that issues in relation to the children are not agreed, such as access, holiday arrangements or indeed there might even be a relocation aspect for the Court to determine. This is something to be discussed and examined so that suitable information is included in the Affidavit of Welfare and all relevant issues are examined and ventilated before the Court.
PART 5 – Maintenance. This section seeks to provide details of child support arrangements. Who pays towards the financial support of the children. This section enquires as to whether any such support is by way of Court Order or by agreement between the parties or whether it is envisaged that a Court Order for Maintenance/Child support will be sought at the hearing.
PART 6 – this section seeks details of the contact/access of each parent with the children. Do both parents see the children and what are those contact details? Are there overnight or holiday visits? What are those details? The enquiry is again made as to whether the person swearing the Affidavit of Welfare thinks that there will be any change to the stated arrangements. If co-parenting arrangements are not agreed then this may require considerable discussion and possibly, the involvement of a child expert to assist the Court and the parties in this regard.
PART 7– this section seeks to provide details of the health of the children and the parties. If there are any relevant issues these will need to be set out. I am often asked why such sensitive information needs to be set out in an Affidavit or why the Court would need this type of information. In circumstances where the Court is asked to grant a decree of divorce or judicial separation, it may only do so in circumstances where ‘proper provision’ for the parties ‘in all the circumstances’ is provided for. Therefore, if there are health issues that may require additional consideration or costs, for example, these are factors that the Court should know about in considering the case and will inform the ultimate orders delivered in the case.
PART 8 – the final section enquires as to whether the children, or any of them, are or have been in care or under the supervision of a social worker or probation officer or whether or not there are or have been any other court proceedings involving the children or any of them. If there have been such proceedings, then these should be attached to the Affidavit of Welfare as an annex or exhibit. There may, for example, have been separate District Court proceedings between the parties seeking orders pertaining to access, maintenance or domestic violence issues.
Accordingly, as you can see the Affidavit of Welfare can be a very detailed document that can assist in providing the Court with an overview of the practical circumstances and day to day living arrangements of the parties and their children. It may inform the Court as to some of the issues of which it may need to take account and it is a document that requires a great deal of thought and consideration when preparing.
I hope that this very brief article is of some benefit and assistance.
If you require any further information in relation to this post, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.