SCRA Judicial Proceedings

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act protects servicemembers from certain judicial proceedings until they return from military service, deployment or overseas tours of duty. These protections include:

Stay of Proceedings

If the person is in military service or is within 90 days after termination of or release from military service and has received notice of a civil action or proceeding.the court may on its own motion and shall, upon application by the servicemember, stay the action for a period of not less than 90 days.

Stay of Execution

If the person against whom action brought is, or within the last 90 days was, in military service the court may stay the execution of judgments, court actions, attachments and garnishments. If the member requests a stay, it must be granted unless the court finds the member's ability to comply with the order or judgment is not materially affected by military status.

Default Judgment

Before a court can enter a default judgment (for failure to respond to a lawsuit or failure to appear at trial) against a military member, the person who is suing the servicemember must provide the court with an affidavit stating the defendant is not in military service. If the plaintiff files no affidavit and defendant is in the military, the court will appoint an attorney to represent the defendant's interests (usually by seeking a delay in the proceedings). The court may also require the plaintiff to secure bond to protect the defendant against harm. If a default judgment is entered against a military member, the judgment may be reopened if the member makes an application within 90 days after leaving active duty, shows he or she was prejudiced, and shows he or she had legal defense.

Statute of Limitations

Period of military service may not be included in computing any limitation period for filing suit, either by or against the servicemember.

However, this does not apply to any period of limitation prescribed by or under the internal revenue (IRS) laws of the United States.

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