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Debt Relief for Military Personnel

The men and women of our armed forces and their families make huge sacrifices every day to protect our freedoms. And all the while, they still have to run their own financial lives, often from thousands of miles away. This can be especially problematic for service members who are named as defendants in civil actions — including debt collection and foreclosure actions — while deployed abroad.

Fortunately, these brave and dedicated individuals derive protection from the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. This World War II era legislation was passed in 1940 and amended in 1942. It protects deployed service members from default judgments — which is what happens when you are sued and fail to respond within the allotted time period — and allows default judgments entered in error against service personnel to be vacated for up to 60 days after military discharge.

When a service member has notice of a pending judicial action, he or she can request a stay of the proceedings for up to 90 days as well as additional stays within the discretion of the court. Also, active service members can stay execution of judgments against them during their military service and for up to 90 days after receiving a discharge.

In addition, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act gives members of the armed forces numerous contractual rights that can reduce or avoid debt in some circumstances. It provides the families of service members with additional protections in eviction proceedings and allows service members to terminate residential and automotive leases if they receive a transfer order during the lease term.

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