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Special Rights If You Are Active Duty Military

If you are sued while you are on active duty with the military, or within the first ninety days after you get off active duty, you can ask the court for a postponement or “stay” of the case. The lawsuit will not be dropped, but the case will not move ahead while the stay is in effect. Once the stay ends, you have to defend the case.

To request a stay, send a letter to the court explaining how your military duties prevent you from appearing in court, when you will be able to appear, and include a statement from your commanding officer that your current military duties prevent you from appearing in court and that military leave is not authorized for you. Once the court gets this letter, it must order a stay for at least ninety days. If you need more time, ask for it in the original letter, or send a second letter that includes the same information as the initial request. If the court refuses to give you a longer stay, it has to appoint a lawyer to represent you. A JAG Corps attorney may be able to help you ask for a stay.

Courts also have authority to stay enforcement of judgments, including orders for attachment and garnishment, against servicemembers. A court may stay collection of a judgment if it finds that military service impairs the servicemember’s ability to comply with an order to pay the debt.