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Invoking the SCRA in military family law cases

Service members in the U.S., including people in Tennessee, understand all too well the challenges of military life. Long periods of absence from home may make the service members' time with family extremely limited. Hence, many military marriages in Tennessee as well as in other parts of the country end in divorce. In fact, military divorces are becoming more and more common. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act provides certain protections to service members who are going through a divorce.

In an earlier post, we had discussed the protection that the federal laws give to a service member. However, the SCRA protection does not happen automatically. A service member should not assume that the person is allowed to ignore a court order regarding child support or alimony because that service member is deployed. The SCRA does not protect the person from judicial procedures. On the other hand, it is important that a service member is proactive about judicial proceedings.

The SCRA also requires that the service member asks for protection in a timely fashion. In certain military family law matters, such as interest rates, the service member may have to prove that active deployment is preventing the military member from making a payment. There may be times when a service member may have to prove that deployment is affecting that person's ability to make child support payments. The service member may then ask for a child support modification.

Child support can be modified in many states without a court hearing on the basis of supporting documents. In the event that a service member is required to testify in person, that person can do so over phone or through video teleconferencing. The individual may also give testimony over Skype. If any service member feels that the person's rights have been violated, the individual may contact the Armed Forces Legal Assistance Program office to determine if the organization can help the person.

Source: ACF.HHS.gov, "A Handbook for Military Families," Accessed on June 18, 2015

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