Defending Those Who Defend Us®

A Brief Introduction to the SCRA

Are you a member of the U.S. Army Reserve who has just been called up for active duty? A U.S. Marine who is about to be deployed for several months? If so, you may be understandably worried about how you are going to balance the demands of military service and any financial or legal obligations you currently have.

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) protects American service personnel and their families from being placed in financial or legal jeopardy as a result of their military obligations. This means that while you are defending the nation, your family will not be evicted, your home foreclosed upon, or judgments entered against you. No service member deserves that kind of homecoming.

History of the SCRA

The SCRA traces its origins to a Civil War moratorium that protected Union soldiers and sailors from collection actions, divorce proceedings, and other legal issues during wartime. These protections resurfaced in 1918 with the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act. The Act was revisited frequently as society changed, and became the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act in December of 2003.

Who Does It Cover?

The SCRA protects:

  • All full-time active duty personnel from all divisions of the U.S. Armed Forces
  • All active duty Reserve personnel
  • Members of the Army and Air National Guard, provided they have been called to respond to a national emergency and their period of active duty is more than 30 days in a row
  • Active duty commissioned officers of the Public Health Service or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Dependents of servicemembers

If you have given someone a Power of Attorney during your absence, they can request SCRA protections on your behalf. The law actually requires a court to appoint someone to represent your interests if you are on active duty and did not designate anyone beforehand.

SCRA Provisions

The SCRA contains several provisions that assist active-duty military personnel. They include:

  • Interest rates on mortgages, credit cards, federally guaranteed student loans, and other debt accumulated before you entered active duty are capped at 6%.
  • Lenders may not make a negative notation on your credit report because you requested SCRA protection.
  • Civil court and administrative proceedings, such as divorce or bankruptcy, may be postponed at last 90 days.
  • Provided your rent does not exceed a certain amount, your landlord may not evict you or your family without getting a court order first.
  • You may terminate, without penalty, residential and business leases that began before you were called to active duty.
  • You may cancel motor vehicle leases if you were called to active duty 180 or more days after signing it. The lease may also be terminated if you are being deployed for over 180 days or receive a permanent posting outside the U.S..
  • If military service causes you to fall behind on your mortgage or vehicle installment payments, you are protected from foreclosure and repossession actions.
  • Any health or life insurance plans canceled due to your service must be reinstated.
  • If military orders require you to move to another state, your legal residence for tax purposes remains the same.

It is important to remember that these provisions are not automatic: you must actively request relief in a timely manner. Written notification is necessary for some protections, while others, such as the 6% interest rate, require you to show that you have been “materially affected” by your military service.

The SCRA presents a huge benefit to U.S. military personnel, but like most laws, it can be complicated to navigate. Before you request relief, or if you have questions about the protections you are entitled to, call or contact Military Justice Attorneys today to request a confidential consultation.

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