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The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) was created in the year 1940 earlier known as the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act (SSCRA) and the objective was to strengthen the national defense by providing Service members temporary suspension from their judicial and administrative proceedings so that they can devote their entire energy and concentration for the defense of the nation.

SCRA was enacted in the year 2003 and after that it got amended several times, expanded and amended the soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act of 1940 this law was made so that military officers and their family members do not get involved in the financial burdens during their tenure of the service. The act wants the service members to devote their time and concentration for the well-being of the nation or only for the tasks that ensure benefits to the nation without getting distracted or indulged in any other things such as life insurance, health insurance, civil judicial proceedings, rental agreements, different kinds of deposits, rents, installment contract, cases related to custody of child and etc.[1]


SCRA that is Service members Civil Relief Act, is a federal legislation. It is associated with the ones that are in relation with the military services and provides protection to them. The reason for making such an act is to reduce some kind of civil consequences so as to make sure that members of the army forces and some other individuals can work attentively with full concentration on their military and professional responsibilities without indulging in the adverse consequences for themselves and at the same time their families too.[2]


SCRA protects the military individuals during the tenure of military services and in some situations for some period of time after the service ends. If anyone is a member of Army, Indian Navy, Air force, Marine corps or the coast Guards who is either active on duty status or is on leave for some period of time or is absent as a result of being wounded then in all these cases such individuals are protected by the service members Civil Relief Act (SCRA). In case someone is a member of the National Guard and has received some special kind of activation orders then in these cases also he/she will be protected under the SCRA. Also the ones who are working actively in the Public Health Service or in national Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as the service commissioned officer are also protected under the Service members Relief Act.


So if someone falls in any of these categories then SCRA also provides or we can say afford a certain kind of protection to their dependents such as their spouse, children or anyone who is providing them more than half of their financial support for about the last 180 days. In case someone is a contractor or a civilian then he/she is not protected under the SCRA. The Act provides service members with delay in court cases or proceedings that might affect their rights. It is very easy for a service member to get a delay as they just need to show that it will cause them harm in any way if the case went ahead.[3]


So SCRA in terms with Custody of child added in the year 2014, section 208[4] and it provides protection to the service members in the matters of child custody. If a court enters a temporary change in custody that to based solely on the development or anticipated development of the service member then the order must expire no later than the time that is specified in the development. This section also prohibits a court from considering development or at least possible development of the parents that have the custody of the child to be the sole factor in important factor in order to determine the best interest of the child when deciding the permanent change in the custody of the child.[5]

If a service member receives any kind of notice that a child custody proceeding has been started against him during his service tenure or 90 days after that then in that case he/she have the right under SCRA to request for the stay of that proceeding at least for a period of 90 days. Also have the right to extend that stay in case if needed. And in case if the stay got rejected due to any reason like child’s stability factor than in that case court has to appoint an attorney to represent that service member in the court.

In 2016 a provision is added and according to that secretaries of each military department should ensure that service members receive annually and that too before the development the notice of the custody of child protections under the SCRA.[6]

It can prevent a judge from issuing the court orders that can affect the relationship between the child and the service member  because eventually it will lead to some kind of distraction in form of stress in the mind is the military official and thus he /she will not be able to serve with their full attention to the nation. In these cases where one of the spouse is from non- military background then he/she can get frustrated with the delays because there every proceeding, hearing will be arranged as per convenience of the service member. The Act also allows service members to have extra time in replying to the legal documents. Although the issues related to children need to be solved as early as possible so as to ensure stability to the children, here courts try to keep a balance between the two and usually a children needs comes first.


Hence, SCRA applies to all the civil actions including family law matters. Decisions regarding who will be the permanent custodian and the amount of child support one has to pay are some very serious decisions that court has to make so in these cases SCRA ensures that both duty towards the nation and towards the family should not interfere and thus it provides relaxation in many forms to the service members. The bottom line here is military officials are the one that are responsible for security of the whole nation so every small effort is done in order to ensure them peace and to keep them away from every kind of distractions so they can provide security to the nation in a much better way.

Author(s) Name: Vaishnavi Singh (Bennett University, Greater Noida)


[1] G.C.G., E.B.S., L.M.S. and Benjamin M. Quigg, Jr.,’Soldiers and sailors: Civil Relief Act of 1940: Application to Decedents’ Estates, Secured Obligations, Installment Contracts, Insurance, Taxes and Assessments’ (1943) 42 MLR 480 <> accessed 8 Aug. 2021

[2] Lauren S. Douglass,’ Avoiding Conflict at Home When there is conflict abroad: Military child custody and visitation’ (2009) 43 FLQ 349 <> accessed 8 Aug. 2021

[3] Marion J. Browning-Baker,’ No service, no divorce case: Establishing jurisdiction and effective Service of process’ (2005) 28 FA 14 <> accessed 8 Aug. 2021

[4] Section 208 (50 U.S.C. § 3938)

[5] Kristen MH Cyone, Darren Myers and Susan H. witting,’ The SCRA and Family Law: More than just stays and delays’ (2009) 43 FLQ 315 <> accessed 8 Aug. 2021

[6] Robert H. Skilton,’ Moratoria and the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act’ (1943) 227 The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 28 <> accessed 8 Aug. 2021

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