If you are an active duty service member, Congress has granted you with certain rule exemptions in court matters. You should not lose a court case just because you’re overseas or otherwise unable to attend court because of your military service. This is due to the Service Member’s Civil Relief Act.
One court in Kentucky, however, apparently did not get the memo that military service members should be given some leeway. In that case, a woman filed suit against her former husband for failure to pay child support. The husband wrote to the court, claiming that he had no attorney and needed the hearings to be scheduled at times that would allow him to appear by phone. Instead, the court went ahead with the proceeding without the husband’s presence.
The wife later filed to hold the husband — who was unable to attend — in contempt for not complying with the previous order. The husband again asked the court to hold off and specifically mentioned the Service Member’s Civil Relief Act. The court again ignored his plea and required him to pay his ex-wife’s attorney fees.
Thankfully, the appellate court was more sympathetic and overturned the family court’s decision. Courts are supposed to construe the Service Member’s Civil Relief Act liberally in order to protect service members called up to active duty. If you are an active duty service member facing legal issues, contact a Florida Family Law Attorney to discuss your case.