SERVICEMEMBERS CIVIL RELIEF ACT
Have you ever heard of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)? If not, you will as it appears it has reared its head in the court system, again. The basic premise of the SCRA is to prevent those in the military service of our country from returning from a deployment to find that a civil court action has occurred without their involvement. Not the outcome public policy would support for our men and women in the service.
The SCRA requires that a plaintiff check www.dmdc.osd.mil/appj/scra/ to ensure the status of each debtor before beginning a civil legal action. To use that website, you must have either the debtor’s birthdate or social security number. For years, family law courts in our area have required an affidavit with a copy of the print-out from the website before they will enter a divorce by default. Recently, our office encountered a circumstance in which a judge required this affidavit before we could obtain an Order in Aid of Execution. Apparently, the SCRA was a topic at a recent judicial conference and a renewed importance was placed on making certain that the courts are abiding by the requirements of this act.
What this means for those who find themselves as plaintiff in a civil action is that if you cannot prove you checked the website, you may find obtaining a judgment or collecting one more difficult. In practical terms, it is yet another reason those extending credit need to be thorough in verifying the information on credit applications and in making certain applications are fully completed. Information is power, but it is also security to some extent.