WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU’RE AWAY ON MILITARY ACTIVE DUTY AND GET SERVED WITH CHILD SUPPORT COURT PAPERS?
Many people serve in the US military. Sometimes they go on active duty. How should an NCP on active duty respond when he is served with court papers or an administrative notice to show up for a child support hearing? He has some options under the federal law known as the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). SCRA allows NCP’s to postpone court or administrative proceedings because of their military duties. The law gives an NCP or his attorney to right to have the court postpone a hearing date for at least 90 days to allow the NCP the opportunity to be present. The biggest benefit SCRA provides to NCP’s is that it prevents a plaintiff from obtaining a default judgment against the NCP when the NCP misses court due to his military duties.
To take advantage of the SCRA and postpone his court date, an NCP must:
- make a request in writing to the court;
- explain how his military duty affects his ability to appear;
- give a date of when he can appear;
- and provide a superior’s letter stating the NCP is not authorized to leave and cannot be present for the child support hearing due to his military duties.
Per the SCRA, once requested the court must postpone an NCP’s child support hearing for at least 90 days. The court has discretion to grant additional delays. If the court denies additional delays, it must appoint an attorney to represent the NCP (SCRA Section 202).
The SCRA also restricts the court from entering a default judgment against an NCP in favor of a plaintiff without the court first obtaining from the plaintiff an affidavit stating whether or not the defendant NCP is in fact in military
service (Section 201).
NCP’s have some remedies under SCRA. They should know however that the law is not intended to help them avoid paying child support, but only gives them the opportunity to be present and have a say in their child support proceeding.
The above is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship between the writer and reader. It is prudent to speak with an attorney before making any major legal decision.