Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Lawyers

Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA) Lawyers in San Antonio

Strong advocacy for our military members and the families in San Antonio and Texas

The Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act is a federal law that delays or suspends certain civil obligations so members of the military can focus fully on their military duty. The SCRA was also enacted to help the families of military members who are under a lot of stress while their loved one is away from home. The key word is “delay.” Eventually, a servicemember will need to reply to civil actions.

At Grable Grimshaw PLLC, our San Antonio family lawyers are honored to help military servicemembers and their families. We are skilled at balancing the need of servicemembers to be able to focus fully on defending our country with the needs of children to have the stability, guidance, and financial support they need. Our San Antonio SCRA lawyers understand the laws that protect servicemembers while they’re being deployed including the SCRA. We’ll explain how the SCRA helps servicemembers and other members of their families.

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"The unfortunate circumstances of a divorce caused me to hire a lawyer but hiring Matt Grimshaw as my attorney opened my eyes to know there are still good people in this world. Mr. Grimshaw was transparent, humble, and compassionate. He demonstrates the compassion to serve others is in his patience and kindness. He is an expert in family law. He took the time and never made me feel rushed or left me feeling uninformed." – Rita P.

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Why was the SCRA enacted?

The SCRA specifically provides that the law was enacted:

  • To provide for, strengthen, and expedite the national defense through protection extended by this chapter to servicemembers of the United States to enable such persons to devote their entire energy to the defense needs of the Nation; and
  • To provide for the temporary suspension of judicial and administrative proceedings and transactions that may adversely affect the civil rights of servicemembers during their military service.

Who is protected by the SCRA?

Per the SCRA, the following people are protected under the law:

  • Active duty members of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard;
  • Members of the Reserve component when serving on active duty;
  • Members of the National Guard component mobilized under federal orders for more than 30 consecutive days; or
  • Active duty commissioned officers of the Public Health Service or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

People with a valid power of attorney for a servicemember and dependents of the servicemember may also be able to exercise SCRA rights on behalf of the servicemembers.

The law may also protect sureties, guarantors, and other third parties who would otherwise be liable.

What types of non-family law civil actions does the SCRA postpone?

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, some of the protections servicemembers use the SCRA for include:

  • Reducing the interest rate on any pre-service loans to a maximum of 6 percent
  • Protections against default judgments in civil cases
  • Protections against foreclosure on their home
  • Protections against repossession of their property
  • Termination of residential housing and automobile leases without penalty

Other protections include postponing claims for payment for outstanding credit card debt, pending trials, taxes, and other claims. Spouses can use the same residency of a servicemember to establish their residency, such as for establishing residency for a business the spouse operates.

Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act

What types of family law civil actions does the SCRA postpone?

According to the Military Officers Association of America, the SCRA applies to family law matters including child custody. While servicemembers can ask for SCRA relief if a child custody action is filed, the MOAA states that servicemembers should understand that “not supporting your family is a crime under military law; you are paid additional allowances for the support of your family while on active duty,” which means seeking to postpone a child support obligation may lead to criminal charges.

Texas does have its own laws that govern what is considered “military deployment,” how temporary custody orders can be obtained if a conservator is the parent who deploys, enter temporary orders for child support, and other family law issues. While temporary orders can be issued, MOAA states that the following:

  • No permanent orders altering existing custody arrangements are to be entered while the custodial parent is unavailable due to military service.
  • Neither past nor possible future absences due to military service should serve as the sole basis for altering a custody order in place before the absence.
  • A custody order in place before the absence of a military parent may be reinstated within a set time upon the return of the military parent without proof that reinstatement undermines the best interests of the child. The parent who has not been deployed bears the burden of proof.
  • A servicemember with visitation rights is allowed to petition the court to allow those visitation rights to be delegated to a third person, such as grandparents or a new spouse, during the servicemember’s absence due to military service.
  • Both (a) expedited hearings upon the request of a servicemember, and (b) the use of electronic testimony when the servicemember is unavailable are allowed.

The state of Texas determines when and how these custody orders are entered. The SCRA does not make that determination. Servicemembers who wish to challenge a current San Antonio custody must either comply with the order or contest the order in court before their deployment.

If there is no Texas custody order (permanent or temporary), then a family care plan will need to be negotiated between the parents to clarify where the child will stay when the servicemember is deployed. The MOAA states that “DoD regulations require you, to the greatest extent possible, to at least consult with the other parent as you prepare the family care plan to reach an agreement on arrangements for your child, and if not leaving the child with the other parent, to obtain the other parent’s agreement to that plan.”

How does a San Antonio SCRA lawyer help military members and their families?

At Grable Grimshaw, PLLC, our San Antonio SCRA lawyers represent parents who are members of the military and parents who are married to someone in the military. We represent parents who have joint conservatorship of a child, sole conservatorship, and when no conservatorship has been established. We will explain what SCRA provisions protect servicemembers when child custody and child support actions are filed. Our family lawyers will explain how a military care plan differs from a child custody order. Our lawyers also address petitions for paternity that are filed after a potential father deploys.

The most important person in any child custody or child support dispute involving a servicemember is the child. Even if you can delay child custody, child support, and enforcement decisions, your child needs a place to sleep today. He/she needs food, clothing, education, discipline, social relationships, and many other forms of good parenting today. If a military member truly cannot respond due to their deployment, then the family members back home should help out. Otherwise, every effort should be made to reach an agreement about child custody and child support until a formal hearing can be held.

Do you have an SCRA lawyer near me?

Grable Grimshaw, PLLC, helps military spouses and servicemembers protect their interests and their families. We meet clients at our San Antonio office located at 1603 Babcock Rd Suite 280. We also gladly conduct video conferences with servicemembers, no matter where they are stationed, by appointment.

We’ve earned praise from many other family law clients for our strong record of helping spouses, parents, and children.

Learn your rights. Speak with a respected San Antonio SCRA lawyer now

Life in San Antonio continues even when a servicemember is abroad. The family members, including the servicemembers, need to understand their rights and obligations. At Grable Grimshaw PLLC, we work to negotiate custody and child support agreements before servicemembers leave for duty and while they are on active duty. We help servicemembers and families understand how the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act provides legal protections from creditors and other civil claims. Please call our office in San Antonio or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation today.