Soldier is hit with child support increase while on active duty

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Military Divorce on Friday, November 22, 2013.

Military divorce, as well as child custody and child support matters involving servicemen and women, involve a number of challenges that are not present in civilian cases. These cases are often complicated by deployments and service schedules, and servicemembers also have complex retirement assets that may be subject to division. Additionally, these family law matters tend to involve federal law, whereas most civilian family law cases in Belleville involve only Illinois state law.

One law that affects military cases is the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act.

The Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act provides for a delay of civil lawsuits and other legal transactions while troops are on active duty. So, this means that an ex-spouse of a military member may not be able to complete a family law claim if his or her ex-spouse is away on active duty.

The SCRA, however, is often misunderstood.

In a recent case, a soldier appealed a child-support increase that was ordered while he was on active duty. The soldier argued that his rights were violated under the SCRA because he was forced to face the request for a modified child support order while on duty.

A court has ruled against the soldier, explaining the SCRA does not completely prohibit all legal actions against active-duty members of the military. The SCRA provides only for the delay of civil actions when such actions would harm the rights of troops.

In this particular case, the court said that the soldier did not prove that his military duties prevented him from participating in the child support modification process or that his participation in the process adversely affected his military service. These things are necessary to prove in order to obtain protection under the SCRA.

Many members of the military operate under the misconception that the SCRA provides them complete immunity from lawsuits, but as we see here, this is not the case. The SCRA provides protection from lawsuits  – including family law matters – only when certain requirements are met.

Source: Marine Corps Times, “SCRA doesn’t preclude child-support increase, court rules,” Oct. 24, 2013

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