Can You Be Taken To Court While In The Military?

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Can you be taken to court while in the military? Maybe, but there is a federal law that protects service members from some court proceedings.

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) protects you from certain judicial proceedings until you return from military service, deployment or overseas tours of duty. These protections include:

Stay of Court Proceedings

If you are on active duty or within 90 days after leaving active duty and get taken to court for a civil matter, the court can postpone the proceedings, or you can request them to postpone it by at least 90 days.

Stay of Execution

If civil legal action is taken against you while you are on active duty or within 90 days after you are separated, the court may automatically delay the legal action. If you request a stay, it must be granted unless the court finds the your ability to comply with the order or judgment is not materially affected by your military status.

Default Judgment

Before a court can enter a default judgment (for failure to respond to a lawsuit or failure to appear at trial) against any person, the person who is doing the suing you must prove to the court that the person they are suing isn't in the military. If they don't provide this proof and the person they are suing is on active duty, the court will appoint an attorney to represent the defendant's interests (usually by delaying the proceedings). The court may also require the plaintiff to secure bond to protect the defendant against harm. If a default judgment is entered against a military member, the judgment may be reopened if the member makes an application within 90 days after leaving active duty, shows he or she was prejudiced, and shows he or she had legal defense.

Statute of Limitations

Any period of military service may not be included in computing any limitation period for filing suit, either by or against the servicemember.

However, this does not apply to any period of limitation prescribed by or under the internal revenue (IRS) laws of the United States.

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