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The Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA)

The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act (SSCRA) was originally enacted in 1918, reenacted in 1940, and updated in 2003 with the enactment of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). Since 2003, the SCRA has been amended several times. It is found at 50 U.S.C. §§ 3901 to 4043. It is not found in state statutes.

The primary purpose of the SCRA is to postpone, suspend, terminate, or reduce the amount of certain civil obligations so that members of the armed forces and certain other individuals can focus their full attention on their military or processional responsibilities without adverse consequences for themselves or their families. The SCRA is not intended to be an answer to all legal problems encountered by a military member.

The SCRA protects all service members on federal active duty, including:

  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard) who are on active duty service, or who are absent from duty as a result of being wounded or being granted leave
  • Reserve, National Guard, and Air Guard personnel who have been activated and are on federal active duty
  • National Guard personnel under a call or order to active duty for more than 30 consecutive days under section 502(f) of Title 32, United States Code, for purposes of responding to a national emergency declared by the president and supported by federal funds
  • Commissioned officers of the Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in active military service.

Service members on active duty do not have to deploy to qualify for the protections of the SCRA.

The SCRA does not apply to DoD civilians, contract employees, and military retirees, and most of its provisions do not apply to military dependents directly. As originally enacted, the SSCRA only applied to judicial proceedings. Under the SCRA, these protections now also cover administrative procedures, such as the administrative child support enforcement remedies mandated under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.