July 01, 2017

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act: The Basics

Chris Barondeau

Reprinted with permission from the ABA Section of Family Law eNewsletter, May 2017. © 2017 American Bar Association. All rights reserved. This information or any or portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.




Everyone can agree that being a member of the military is no walk in the park, but between a less than certain schedule, constant relocation, and eternal training it can be harder than people expect for military families to make it. For this reason, the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA) acts as a savior for many.

What Is the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA)?

The SCRA provides protection from civil actions for active-duty servicemembers. Its purpose is to suspend certain civil obligations and allow the men and women protecting our country to devote 100% of their focus to doing their job. The SCRA also lessens the burden on family members back home. Examples of protection provided by the SCRA include: an interest rate cap, the ability to terminate leases, and protection from eviction, among numerous other benefits. If you or your clients are eligible to receive the benefits provided and they are not being utilized, then it could be causing unneeded stress to servicemembers and their families during an already difficult time.


Steps to Ensure SCRA Benefits Are Being Maximized

Step one: Do your research. There are some simple steps you can take to ensure that you are using the SCRA to its fullest potential. The first step is to conduct research on exactly what benefits the SCRA provides and how you are currently taking advantage of these benefits. Certain companies also provide benefits above and beyond what the SCRA outlines, for example, multiple credit card companies will lower the APR to 0% while a service member is active, and some life insurance companies will even completely waive payments, so it is crucial to discover your individual potential benefits.

Step two: Hire an attorney. The next step is to hire an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced on the subject. This step is crucial because an attorney will likely discover additional ways to help you save money and reduce stress. Also, an attorney with experience regarding the SCRA will likely know what unique benefits are provided by individual companies. The attorney will likely be able to help with previous problems that arose during the time you weren’t using the SCRA to its fullest potential as well.



The Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA) can be very helpful to any active-duty servicemember, but the truth is that many people are not using it to its fullest capabilities. If you or a family member is an active-duty servicemember and you think that maximizing your benefits provided by the SCRA could help your situation in any way, follow the steps provided above and start reducing unneeded stress in your life!


Chris Barondeau



Chris Barondeau is a divorce attorney with the Goosmann Law Firm in Sioux City, Iowa, and is licensed in Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota. He focuses his practice on family law and trials. He currently serves in the Nebraska Army National Guard, and early in his military career he deployed to Iraq, where he operated a vehicle used to locate roadside bombs. He is the editor of the Section of Family Law’s Roll Call. He may be reached at barondeauc@goosmannlaw.com.