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Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Does Not Preclude All Civil Actions

Military ServicememberAs we have previously discussed here at the Livesay Myers Blog, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) can have a significant impact in a family law case where one party is a member of the Armed Forces. The SCRA provides paths for servicemembers on active duty to delay litigation in which they are involved. Key points that servicemembers often ignore with respect to the SCRA are (a) that it only provides a temporary delay to their litigation and (b) that the servicemember is required to actively seek relief under the SCRA.

These points were discussed in a recent Marine Corps Times article regarding a soldier who appealed a child support court order to the Alaska Supreme Court. The soldier argued in his appeal that the SCRA protected him from any negative consequences of civil litigation as long as he is on active duty.

The Alaska Supreme Court correctly identified that the SCRA does not prevent “all civil actions against members of the military,” but that instead it simply provides servicemembers the option to delay proceedings when their service gets in the way of litigation.

In the case in Alaska, the soldier did not argue that his service prevented him from participating in the child support litigation. In fact, he actively participated in the child support proceedings, and when the court increased the soldier’s child support amount he then claimed immunity from negative consequences under the SCRA.

Many servicemembers have the misconception that they are automatically entitled to protection from all civil litigation while on active duty. The reality, however, is significantly different, and failure to follow the guidelines in the SCRA can lead to unfortunate consequences.

The military divorce lawyers at Livesay & Myers have extensive experience handling all aspects of military divorce and family law cases, including application of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. If you are a servicemember or servicemember’s spouse involved in litigation in Northern Virginia, contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today.

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