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Servicemembers Appearance and Waivers

The Servicesmembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is not applicable to all actions and most actions require the servicemember to take some affirmative step to invoke its protections.

Waivers

A servicemember who wishes to cooperate in a court action may waive any of the rights and protections under the SCRA. The waiver must be made in writing in a separate document which specifies the legal pleading to which the waiver applies (for example, Notice of Support Order, Notice of Paternity and Support Order, Notice of Support Debt, Motion to Modify, etc.). This may be a useful tool if the servicemember wants to cooperate in the cause of action, but is unable to appear either in person, telephonically, or through counsel. Also, the servicemember can waive any of the rights and protections under oath in a court proceeding.

Appearances

A servicemember may make an appearance in any of the following ways: in person, telephonically, through counsel, through a person with a valid Power of Attorney, by filing an Entry of Appearance, or by making a responsive pleading. If a servicemember makes an appearance at any stage of the proceedings in a court action, Section 201 of the SCRA no longer applies.
The Act allows a person with a valid Power of Attorney to proceed in the servicemember’s place. However, the Special Power of Attorney does not apply to this situation as it only designates the authorized representative to receive confidential information or sign documents on the NCP’s behalf. It does not allow the authorized representative to appear at court hearings for the NCP. An authorized representative would only be allowed to appear if he or she has a valid Power of Attorney that authorizes his or her appearance.

Legal Authorities:

Army: AR 608-609, Chapter 1-5
Navy: 32 CFR Pt 733 2000 CFR Title 232, Volume 5
Air Force: FI 36-2906
Coast Guard: PERSMAN Chapter 8M
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)