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Military personnel may have right to stay hearings

Military personnel living and working in Kentucky should be aware of their rights under the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act of 2003. The act covers all active duty service members, and the protections it offers remain in force, generally speaking, until between 30 and 90 days after the date active duty terminates with discharge. In some cases the protections may last longer.

The SCRA is designed to allow active duty servicemembers to focus on the tasks of active military service; it is meant to relieve them of worries associated with such things as rental agreements, credit card interest rates, mortgage foreclosure or eviction. It calls for civil court proceedings and administrative proceedings to be delayed, including hearings related to divorce, child custody or bankruptcy. Most of the SRCA's protections are applied uniformly across all states.

The law is applied liberally in child custody cases, with the judge weighing the best interest of the child in making determinations. The judge is required to balance the rights of the civilian parent and the soldier-parent and may determine in some cases that staying a custody proceedings pursuant to the SRCA does not prevent awarding the civilian parent temporary custody.

The Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act also provides protections for servicemembers who are concerned about child custody while deployed or approaching deployment. Kentucky is among the states that have not yet adopted the UDPCVA, but it has passed similar statutory protections for military personnel.

In a case where a member of U.S. armed forces is interested in his or her rights under the SRCA or the UDPCVA, an attorney may be able to help. An attorney with experience in family law may be able to outline and assist with the assertion of federal or state protections. An attorney might argue on behalf of the client with regard to custody arrangements or help to secure stays of legal proceedings.

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