The SCRA applies to all members of the United States military on active duty, and to U.S. citizens serving in the military of United States allies in the prosecution of a war or military action.
The provisions of the SCRA generally end when a servicemember is discharged from active duty or within 90 days of discharge, or when the servicemember dies.
Portions of the SCRA also apply to reservists and inductees who have received orders but not yet reported to active duty or induction into the military service.
The Act and its Purpose
The Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (“SCRA”) is found at 50 U.S.C. app. §§ 501 et seq.
The purpose of the SCRA is strengthen and expedite national defense by giving servicemembers certain protections in civil actions. By providing for the temporary suspension of judicial and administrative proceedings and transactions that may adversely affect servicemembers during their military service, the SCRA enables servicemembers to focus their energy on the defense of the United States.
Among other things, the SCRA allows for forbearance and reduced interest on certain obligations incurred prior to military service, and it restricts default judgments against servicemembers and rental evictions of servicemembers and all their dependents.
A court may also protect another person who is co-liable with the servicemember from certain requirements in a similar fashion as the court would for the servicemember.
Bankruptcy Proceedings and the Act
The provisions of the SCRA apply to bankruptcy proceedings as well as other types of civil actions against a servicemember.
Other protections provided by the SRCA include protections against the entry of default judgment against a servicemember, stays of proceedings for which servicemembers are unable to attend, stays of executions of judgment or other orders entered against a servicemember, and stays or vacation of any attachment or garnishment of the property or assets of a servicemember.
A servicemember’s compliance with other contracts may require a servicemember to engage in certain conduct within certain timeframes. The timing of required actions may also be stayed. If timing for these actions are stayed, penalties under contract do not accrue during the stay.
A court will often find that a landlord may not evict a servicemember from his or her residence. A court may amend the lease requirements for the parties. A court could garnish a portion of the servicemember’s pay in order to pay a landlord, however.
Additional protections to a servicemember pertaining to residence and leases include allowances for the servicemember to break the lease. Under the SRCA, a servicemember may break a residential lease or lease for a vehicle if the servicemember is transferred after entering into the lease.