Protection For Armed Forces Members

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) allows members of the U.S. military to suspend or postpone some civil legal responsibilities while on active duty.  The purpose of the SCRA is to allow servicemembers to devote their entire energy to the defense needs of the Nation and to provide for the temporary suspension of judicial and administrative proceedings and transactions that may adversely affect the civil rights of servicemembers during their military service.  (50 U.S.C. App. § 502.)

Servicemembers Covered Under The SCRA

Servicemembers who are covered by the SCRA generally include:

  • Members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard who are on active duty;
  • Members of the National Guard who are called to active duty for over thirty consecutive days to respond to a national emergency; and
  • Commissioned members of the Public Health Service and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

(50 U.S.C. App. § 511.)

Protections Under The SCRA

Below are some of the more commonly used protections offered by the SCRA.  The SCRA provides for many more protections than those listed, including protections relating to such things as:

  • Installment contracts (50 U.S.C. App. § 523);
  • Mortgages and foreclosures (50 U.S.C. App. § 533);
  • Telephone service contracts (50 U.S.C. App. § 535a);
  • Life insurance (50 U.S.C. App. § 536);
  • Storage liens (50 U.S.C. App. § 537); and
  • Health insurance (50 U.S.C. App. § 594).

If you think you may qualify for protection under the SCRA, you should speak with a lawyer or contact your military legal assistance office.  Click to visit our Lawyers and Legal Help page for more information.

  • Staying a case filed against a servicemember:  If a servicemember is served with a complaint, the servicemember may be able to get a postponement (called a "stay") of the case if the servicemember can show that military service materially affects his or her ability to proceed in the case.  A stay can be used to stop the court action altogether or to delay some part of it.  (50 U.S.C. App. § 522.)
  • Staying a judgment entered against a servicemember and any related attachment or garnishment:  If a servicemember can demonstrate that military service materially affects his or her ability to comply with a court judgment or order, the court can stay the execution of any judgment or order against the servicemember and vacate or stay any attachment or garnishment of property or money.  (50 U.S.C. App. § 524.)
  • Reopening a default judgment entered against a servicemember:  If a servicemember is sued while on active duty and a default judgment is requested and granted, the servicemember can apply to the court to reopen the default judgment under certain circumstances.  (50 U.S.C. App. § 521.) 
  • Protecting a servicemember from eviction:  A servicemember and his or her dependents may be protected from eviction during active duty under certain circumstances.  (50 U.S.C. App. § 531.) 
  • Terminating a residential lease due to military service:  The SCRA allows military members who receive permanent change of station orders or who are deployed for a period of ninety days or more to terminate a lease by providing written notice to the landlord along with a copy of the military orders.  (50 U.S.C. App. § 535.) 
  • Terminating automobile leases due to military service:  A servicemember can cancel pre-service automobile leases if the servicemember receives orders to active duty for a period of 180 days or more.  Automobile leases entered into while the servicemember is on active duty may be terminated if he or she receives permanent change of station orders to a location outside the continental U.S. or deployment orders for a period of 180 days or more.  (50 U.S.C. App. § 535.)

Resources for Servicemembers

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Guide