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October 2013 Archives

Service Members Civil Relief Act

The Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA) was signed into law by President Bush in 2003. It was an overhaul of the SSCRA which had been law since 1940. The main purpose of the SCRA is to protect service members from civil lawsuits while they are on active duty and unable to adequately defend themselves. The protections of the SCRA, accordingly, apply to family law matters such as divorce, custody and support. Divorce complaints must either include a statement that neither party is a service member on active duty or be accompanied by an affidavit of non-military service. The service member has the right to waive their protection under the SCRA and still proceed if they desire to. Any waiver of rights under the SCRA must be in writing.

Health Insurance for Children

Health insurance for minor children is an issue dealt with in the context of child support. If the children are presently covered under a plan through one of the parents, the children can remain on that plan. The other parent would then contribute to the premium being paid if applicable. This can be achieved by an increase over the guideline support amount if the party receiving support is paying the premium or a decrease if the parent who is receiving support is not the one providing the coverage. A change in which parent provides the coverage may be beneficial if one parent's coverage is better than the other or less expensive but with similar coverage. Sometimes, the motive in changing plans is for the parent paying support to reduce the support paid directly to the other parent by adding the children to their plan instead.

Consenting to Adoption

One of the ways an adoption can proceed is if the natural parent(s) consent to the adoption. Pursuant to 23 Pa. C.S. Section 2711, a consent must be signed by the following individuals where applicable: (1) the child(ren) being adopted if over 12 years of age; (2) the spouse of the adopting parent if that spouse is not also a petitioner; (3) the natural parent(s) of any minor child(ren) being adopted; (4) the guardian of an incapacitated child up for adoption; and (5) the guardian of a minor child or persons having custody when the adoptee has no parent whose consent is required. There are several timing rules that must be adhered to. First, the consent cannot be signed by a natural mother within 72 hours, or three days, after the birth of a child. A consent can be signed by a natural father at any time after he has been notified the child is expected to be born or has been born. Executed consents become irrevocable after 30 days. The can be revoked on the basis of fraud or duress within 60 days.

Military Service and Child Support

There are several options in providing for child support of minor children when one of the parents is in the military. One option is the traditional method of pursuing court-ordered support through the state court with jurisdiction. An issue that may pop up in this instance is the Servicemember's Civil Relief Act (SCRA) which mandates a stay on civil matters while a servicemember is on active duty. A servicemember can waive this statutory protection in writing and proceed with any civil matter, including family law issues, at their discretion. Another option is to reach an agreement on support. Written support agreements can be enforced through the military or the state court with jurisdiction. 

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