The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
On December 19, 2003, President Bush signed into law the "Servicemembers Civil Relief Act" (SCRA). This law is a complete revision of the statute previously known as The Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act.
The purpose of the SCRA is to enable service members (including members of the National Guard called to active duty for more than 30 days) to devote their entire energy to the defense of the Nation. It thus provides for the suspension of legal proceedings and reduction of certain financial obligations that may adversely affect the rights of service members and their families during military service.
A brief summary of the key provisions of the SCRA is set forth below. Application of the SCRA is unique to every divorce situation. Please contact an experienced military divorce law firm like Davis Mockler to understand your individual rights.
A. GENERAL PROVISIONS
- Expands the right to postpone (i.e., "stay") civil and administrative proceedings, including child support determinations, eviction proceedings, and garnishment proceedings, because of deployment or other military duties
B. LEASES, MORTGAGES, aND INSTALLMENT CONTRACTS
- Prohibits eviction of service members and their families without a court order for monthly rents under $3,329.84 and also allows for a stay of eviction proceedings or reduction of rent if non-payment was the result of military service.
- Allows service members to terminate residential and commercial leases signed before active duty, as well as leases entered into by active duty servicemembers who subsequently receive orders for a permanent change of station (PCS) or a deployment of 90 days or more
- Allows service members to terminate car leases signed before active duty, as well as those signed by active duty service members who subsequently receive PCS orders or orders for deployment of 180 days or greater
- Clarifies the rule that interest in excess of 6% on pre-service loans must be forgiven, not merely deferred
C. LIFE INSURANCE
- Allows service members to defer payments for life insurance premiums for up to two years for life insurance policies up to $250,000 in coverage, or the maximum group life limit, whichever is greater
- Prevents states from increasing the tax bracket of a nonmilitary spouse who earned income in the state by adding in the service member's military income.