What is the Purpose?
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is a federal law that provides certain protections for active-duty servicemembers and their families. The SCRA can apply to a variety of legal matters, including family law cases. It protects active duty military members from experiencing legal issues/problems while serving our country. Not only does it apply to litigation, but also mortgage interest rates and nonjudicial foreclosure protections).
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is a federal law that provides legal and financial protections to servicemembers and their dependents. These protections are designed to help servicemembers focus on their military duties without having to worry about their personal finances or legal matters.
Some of the key protections under the SCRA include:
- Interest rate cap on pre-service loans: The SCRA caps the interest rate on pre-service loans at 6%. This means that servicemembers can refinance their loans at a lower interest rate, even if they have a poor credit history.
- Protections against default judgments: The SCRA prevents creditors from obtaining a default judgment against a servicemember unless the servicemember has been personally served with the lawsuit. This means that servicemembers who are deployed or otherwise unable to appear in court are protected from default judgments.
- Protections against foreclosure: The SCRA gives servicemembers the right to suspend their mortgage payments for up to 36 months if they are deployed or otherwise called to active duty. This protection can help servicemembers avoid foreclosure on their homes.
- Protections against repossession: The SCRA prohibits creditors from repossessing a servicemember's personal property without a court order. This protection applies to vehicles, appliances, furniture, and other personal property.
- Protections against civil lawsuits: The SCRA provides servicemembers with additional time to respond to civil lawsuits. This means that servicemembers who are deployed or otherwise unable to attend court can still defend themselves against lawsuits.
In addition to these specific protections, the SCRA also provides a number of general protections, such as:
- Protection from discrimination: The SCRA prohibits employers from discriminating against servicemembers on the basis of their military service.
- Protection from credit reporting: The SCRA prohibits creditors from reporting negative information to credit bureaus if the information is related to a debt that is protected under the SCRA.
- Protection from evictions: The SCRA gives servicemembers the right to terminate their residential leases without penalty if they are deployed or otherwise called to active duty.
If you are a servicemember or the dependent of a servicemember, you can find more information about the SCRA on the Department of Justice website.
Here are some additional tips for protecting and exercising your rights under the SCRA:
- Be proactive: Don't wait until you have a problem to learn about your rights under the SCRA. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the law so that you know what to do if you need to assert your rights.
- Document everything: Keep a record of all of your communications with creditors, landlords, and other entities that may be affected by the SCRA. This documentation will be helpful if you need to dispute a violation of your rights.
- Get help from a lawyer: If you have a question about your rights under the SCRA, or if you believe that your rights have been violated, you should contact a lawyer who specializes in military law.
Where does it apply?
Not only does it apply to courts (state, federal, and local) but also administrative agencies such as the division of child support enforcement. The SCRA does not apply to criminal proceedings.
Here are some of the important highlights of the SCRA in family law cases:
- The SCRA provides for a stay of civil proceedings against a servicemember. This means that a lawsuit cannot be concluded against a servicemember or that an existing lawsuit cannot be continued while the servicemember is on active duty, such as through a default.
- The SCRA also provides for a stay of evictions against servicemembers. This means that a servicemember cannot be evicted from their home while they are on active duty.
- The SCRA provides for a number of protections for servicemembers' finances. For example, the SCRA prohibits creditors from taking certain actions against a servicemember's property, such as foreclosure or repossession.
- The SCRA also provides for a number of protections for servicemembers' families. For example, the SCRA prohibits creditors from taking certain actions against a servicemember's spouse or children, such as garnishing wages or seizing property.
Here are some additional things to keep in mind about the SCRA:
- The SCRA applies to all active-duty servicemembers, regardless of their branch of service or their rank.
- The SCRA also applies to certain members of the National Guard and Reserve, but only when they are called to active duty.
- The SCRA provides a number of other protections for servicemembers, in addition to the ones listed above. For example, the SCRA prohibits servicemembers from being discharged from the military for certain reasons, such as debt.
- The SCRA also provides for a number of benefits for servicemembers, such as the ability to get a loan at a lower interest rate.
You can find more information about the SCRA on the website of the Department of Justice. The SCRA provides a specific method of seeking a stay if you are an active duty member. It requires that the court (and the opposing counsel/party) provide deference and a continuance if needed/requested. The servicemember provides a letter requesting the stay, along with a letter or other communication from the servicemember’s chain of command or commanding officer confirming the unavailability of the servicemember. The letter from the chain of command must indicate that the service member is not able to appear/participate in the proceeding and must also provide a date upon which the servicemember will become available. The stay issued by the court can generally be renewed for successive 90 day periods.
If you are a servicemember or the family member of a servicemember, you should be aware of the SCRA and how it may affect you. If you are a servicemember and need assistance seeking your rights under the SCRA in a family law case in Kansas or Missouri, please call Pingel Family Law today at (816) 208-8130 to allow us to assist you with ensuring your rights are honored by the Court.