Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
We owe the people making up our Armed Forces so much. They have the extraordinarily tough task of defending our freedom, at home and abroad. Unfortunately, being a soldier doesn't pay much. Many troops also must spend much of their times serving our country abroad, sometimes making it very difficult to handle financial matters back home. And the costs of moving a family around, meaning spouses must often find brand new jobs in new cities, causes tremendous strain on military families. Too many members of the Armed Forces get into severe financial trouble.
Congress recognized this and passed the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, formerly the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act, in 1940. The law protects those serving in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and other Armed Forces from creditors and those seeking to sue those who are currently serving, and for a year after active duty.
Cincinnati Service Members' Bankruptcy Lawyer
If you're a member of the United States Armed Forces, whether currently stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base or just getting back home to Florence after an active duty tour, and you find yourself in financial trouble, there are special laws to protect you during a bankruptcy proceeding. An experienced South Ohio and North Kentucky bankruptcy attorney for our troops can help you use those laws to defend yourself against creditors. Call (855) 741-3328 or send an online message to set up a risk-free consultation.
We have two offices in Cincinnati, where we are able to serve clients in Hamilton County and throughout Ohio. We can also serve clients in Northern Kentucky, including Boone County and Kenton County, with offices in Florence and Covington.
Financial Troubles of Soldiers
Politicians love to talk about supporting the troops, but reality speaks differently. We ask much of our soldiers, but often give them too little in return, whether talking about pay, benefits or support networks for them and their families.
The statistics are ugly. The rate of soldiers with more than $10,000 in credit card debt is nearly twice as high as the rate for the rest of the American population — 27 percent to 16 percent. More than a third of military families have trouble paying monthly bills. And more than a fifth of service members report borrowing money from sources outside banks, some of which may be unscrupulous creditors, like payday lenders and loan sharks.
Many members of the Armed Forces have families. For some, both spouses are in the service, which means their families have the same problems as any other soldier, times two. But when a member of the military has a spouse who is not, it brings a whole set of new challenges. Maybe the service member is abroad, leaving the spouse at home and taking care of many matters by herself or himself. Or maybe the spouse is moving around to be with his or her soldier — which means that spouse has to find a new job in every new city. The unemployment rate for military spouses is about 26 percent.
These financial problems lead to tremendous stress and have been cited as one of the leading factors in the tragically high suicide rate among service members and veterans. That fact is especially tragic considering there are options not all members of the military know about.
Relief Under the SCRA
Service members may find that filing for bankruptcy might actually bring them tremendous relief and that many of the debts and financial burdens currently weighing them down could be discharged and, under the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act, could be reversed. The provisions of the SCRA can be used in any proceeding in a court, which includes bankruptcy court. Any member of the Armed Forces, and anyone who has left active duty in the past year, is eligible for the protections of the SCRA.
Default judgments are one issue facing many members and recently discharged members of the military. Default judgments happen when you are sued, by a creditor seeking payment or any other plaintiff in a personal injury matter or contract dispute, and you don't show up to court to defend yourself. Members of the military often have a very good reason for not showing up in court — they're serving their country.
The SCRA specifically addresses default judgments. Under the SCRA, the plaintiff, or person filing a lawsuit, filing a lawsuit against a member of the Armed Forces is supposed to file an affidavit with the court saying so, and the court is supposed to appoint a lawyer for the service member. The lawyer will be able to request a stay, putting the procedure on hold, until the servicemember is able to be in court.
If the plaintiff fails to file the affidavit or the court for any other reason grants a default judgment, the service member must show his or her ability to present a defense was weakened because of his or her service, and he or she has a good defense. Then, the default judgment will be re-opened and may be re-litigated.
The court, including a bankruptcy court, is also given greater authority to make judgments that favor servicemembers under the SCRA. If there is a judgment against a member of the military, the court has the power to stay, or hold, executing the judgment against him or her, and has the power to vacate, or void, an order to garnish that service member's wages. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can make sure the judge is aware she or he has that power and can argue why she or he should use it.
Steiden Law Offices | Northern Kentucky Bankruptcy Lawyers
If you are serving in the Armed Forces, or have served in active duty over the past year, we should be worrying about what we owe you, instead of you worrying about what you owe. The experienced Ohio and Northern Kentucky bankruptcy lawyers at Steiden Law Offices can help those in difficult financial times, especially our troops. Call us today (855) 741-3328 or send an online message to set up a risk-free consultation.