Military Servicemember in a Legal Action

Find a Person's Military Status

If you are starting a legal action in court, the law may require you to file an affidavit stating the military status of the parties in your case. To find out if someone is in the U.S. military on active duty, please visit the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act website.

Rights of Servicemembers in Civil Court Cases

A federal law called the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) allows members of the U.S. military to suspend or postpone some civil legal responsibilities while on active duty. Read the text of the law at Title 50 of the U.S. Code.

The SCRA provides many more protections than those listed here. If you think that you may qualify for protection under the SCRA, you should talk with a lawyer or contact your military legal assistance office.
  • Stay of Proceedings: If a servicemember is served with a complaint or petition that starts a court case, they may be able to get a "stay" or postponement of the case if they can show that their military service materially affects their ability to proceed in the case. A stay can be used to stop the court action altogether, or to delay some part of it. See SCRA § 3932.
  • Default Judgment: If a servicemember is sued while on active duty and a default judgment is requested and granted, the servicemember may apply to the court to re-open the default judgment under certain circumstances. See SCRA § 3931. In Minnesota, the petitioner in a divorce case who wants to proceed by default must file a form called an Affidavit of Non-Military Status, or file a waiver signed by the servicemember. See MN Gen.R.Prac. 306.01(a) and (c) and SCRA § 3918. If a party is in the military, get legal advice from a lawyer.
  • Protection from Eviction: A servicemember and his or her dependents may be protected from eviction during active duty under certain circumstances. See SCRA § 3951.
  • Terminating a Residential Lease Due to Military Service: The SCRA allows military members who receive permanent change of station (PCS) orders or who are deployed for a period of 90 days or more to terminate a lease by providing written notice to the landlord along with a copy of the military orders. See SCRA § 3955.

Legal Protections for Servicemembers

Legal Help for Servicemembers