On December 19, 2003, the President of the United States signed into law H.R. 100, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. This law completely rewrites the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act of 1940, expanding many of the previous law’s civil protections. One of the most significant sections of the SCRA as it relates to a divorce is Section 202- Stay of Proceedings When Servicemember Has Notice. Section 202 provides that a court may on it’s own motion and shall upon application by the servicemember stay the action for not less than 90 days.
The application made by the service member must satisfy the requirement in Section 202(b) that requires they provide a letter or some other communication that informs the court how their current military duty “materially affects” their ability to appear and also provides the court with a date that they will be available to appear. Further the servicemember needs to provide a letter or other communication from their commanding officer that informs the court that their current duty prevents their appearance and that leave is not authorized for the servicemember at the time the letter was written.