Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is a robust law enacted in order to provide a myriad of financial and legal protections to members of the military when our country calls upon them to deploy. That statute itself states its purpose as to "provide for, strengthen and expedite the national defense through protection extended by this Act to servicemembers of the United States to enable such persons 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." In other words, the SCRA ensures that soldiers and their families are taken care of - a noble and just cause.
Lieutenant Kevin M. Cloutier Maysan Province, Iraq
The SCRA covers all Active Duty servicemembers as well as Reservists and National Guardsmen while on active duty.
The SCRA protects servicemembers in the following areas:
(1) Outstanding Credit Card Debt
- reduces all credit card debt incurred prior to active duty or activation on orders to 6%;
- forgives any interest accrued on debts incurred prior to active duty or activation above 6%;
- reduces the mandatory monthly payment;
(2) Mortgage Payments / Eviction
- prevents the servicemember and/or dependents from being evicted during a servicemembers activation;
(3) Court activity
- a court will stay the execution of any judgments, court actions, garnishments or attachments during the activation period;
- protection against being found in "default" if a servicemember is unable to attend a court hearing due to their service;
- prevents a form of double taxation by excluding the deployed/activated soldier's income from that of his/her spouse;
- allows servicemembers to defer taxes owed for up to 180 days after their release from service;
(5) Terminations of Leases
- provides a servicemember who receives orders for a permanent change of station (PCS) the right to terminate a residential lease without penalty;
- allows a servicemember to break a lease upon the receipt of orders, without penalty;
- Reduces the amount of rent to a prorated amount for the number of days the servicemember remains in the residence during their last month prior to moving
The SCRA affords a number of other protections that all servicemembers and their families should know. However, these protections are not without limitations nor do some of these protections arise automatically. The servicemember must take affirmative steps in many cases in order to secure the rights afforded to them under the SCRA. For example, in order to break a lease without penalty, the servicemember must provide written notice to his/her landlord informing them of the date by which they intend to vacate the residence along with a copy of their orders.
Through his own service and deployment as an Intelligence Officer with the Army Reserve and his experience as a Company Commander of over eighty soldiers, Attorney Cloutier understands the many complications and hurdles that servicemembers and their families face during a deployment. He has seen first-hand how the benefits of the SCRA have protected soldiers and their families from financial hardship due to military service. He has also successfully represented servicemembers and their families assert their rights under the SCRA to protect against predatory tactics of landlords.
Attorney Cloutier will zealously advocate on behalf of fellow servicemembers in order to assert their rights under the SCRA.