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How do federal laws protect divorcing deployed service members?

Service members anywhere in the country, especially those at Fort Campbell and around northern Tennessee and southern Kentucky, know that military life can be challenging. For those who have families, active deployment and periodic relocations make it difficult for service members to spend enough time with them; as a result, many marriages end in divorce. Service members who are going through divorce have certain protections that address certain situations such as deployment away from home.

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act allows a service member to obtain a 90-day stay order over civil or administrative military proceedings in the event of a military divorce if the service member can establish that active duty is a hindrance in protecting the person's legal rights.

The act's provisions are applicable to all active-duty members of the U.S. military, members of the National Guard if called for active duty and members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Public Health Service that work with the military.

However, obtaining a stay is not automatic -- a military judge considers evidence and the service member's arguments before allowing this relief. In order to obtain a stay, the service member must provide the court with a statement that active deployment is materially affecting the service member's ability to appear in court, a date when the service member will be available to appear in court and some communication from the service member's commanding officer that verifies the person cannot attend hearings before that date.

Many courts have strict guidelines as to what must be contained in a request for relief under SCRA, for that reason, military personnel should speak with an attorney.

Source: Military OneSource, "Servicemembers Civil Relief Act protections related to divorce proceedings," Accessed on Nov. 21, 2014

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