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New Legal Resources for Military Families

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By Robin Enos on May 25, 2011 12:46 PM

The American Bar Association (ABA) has announced a new website to help military families, including information about the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act.

As part of its military family support services, the ABA has created the ABA Home Front, to provide legal resources for military families.

The site has three main parts:

  • Information Center: Information about a variety of legal issues military families face every day.
  • Directory of Programs: A state-by-state map showing legal programs available to military families.
  • Military Pro Bono Center: A resource to link up with attorneys who have registered to provide services pro bono (at no cost) to military families.

These resources focus on a whole spectrum of legal issues faced by military families.

"These issues include family law matters, tax questions, or problems with a creditor," says ABA President Stephen N. Zack in the ABA's announcement.

One common area of dispute is with creditors. A member of the military buys a car on an installment contract, or borrows money, or simply charges a purchase.

Congress has limited the rights of creditors with the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act. Congress passed this law in 1940, although the law has existed in some form since the Civil War.

The Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act, protects members of the U.S. military from lawsuits during overseas deployments. Under most circumstances, the protection includes divorces, bankruptcies, foreclosures, attachments, evictions and judgments.

The law also caps interest rates on loans to servicemembers. To qualify for the interest rate cap, a servicemember must show the creditor that they contracted the debt before going on active duty, and that their military commitment affects their ability to pay.

Congress has also provided military service benefits in the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Relief Act of 1994, which provides financial relief and job protection.

Congress has broadened the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act, intending to increase military family support services. And now the ABA Home Front website summarizes legal help available to military families.

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