At Ease! The Soldier’s and Sailors Relief Act

July 29, 2006

A member of the military service who is unable to attend a court hearing because of his or her military service can be protected from appearing in court through the Soliders and Sailors Relief Act of 1940 and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act of 2003.

If a member for the military is being sued in Texas (or any other state- because this is Federal Law) for divorce, child custody, child support, or any other family law related matter, and they are stationed in another state or another country, they can delay the matter for a reasonable time.

Upon request of the servicemeber, a 90 day leave is automatically granted. If the servicemember requires more time, then he or she must show the court that they have tried, but have been unable to obtain a leave of absence to attend the scheduled hearing.

In some cases, a default case may not be taken against a servicemember unless an attorney has been appointed to represent the servicemember. (Hawkins v. Hawkins, 999 S.W. 2d (Tex. App.–Ausin 1999)).

The length of the delay that may be obtained depends on what is reasonable, but the maximum amount of time is the entire length of the servicemember’s duty plus 3 months.

The acts protect all active members of the army, navy, air force, marines, coast guard, officers of the public health service assigned to the army or navy, reservists on active duty, dependents and perosns or business who may be liable along with the servicemember.