When it comes to car repossession cases, keep in mind that the car you buy on credit is a co-owned car. You own part of it, and the creditor owns the other part. The creditor owns progressively less as you pay off the loan, and after the loan is paid the car is 100 percent yours – in this way a car loan is exactly like a mortgage. Unfortunately, sometimes car owners can fall behind on their bills and that can trigger a repossession. In Florida, this type of procedure does not require any court hearings or even a notice of warning. They are authorized to enter onto private property, take the car, and either keep it or sell it after informing the debtor of their decision. However, military personnel has special protections just for them against repossession through the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) Protections
Among the protections afforded to active military personnel that begins with commencing active duty and terminates within 90 days of discharge. The SCRA protections prevent an automobile that you purchased before entering military service being repossessed by the lender without a court order.
This is a double-edged sword for the lender, because if they go to court, they may face any of the following scenarios.
- The court could order the lender to return your payments before allowing them to repossess the car.
- The court must stay any proceeding at your request if you can show that your service prevents you from making payments.
- The court may suspend proceedings even without your request, depending on the circumstances.
- The court may order the lender to pay you the difference between your balance owed and the value of the car before allowing the lender to repossess.
Who Is Protected?
The SCRA protections are extended to the following personnel, and often to their spouse, children, or other dependents.
- Members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.
- Reservists and National Guard members who are on active duty.
- United States citizens serving with the forces of Allied nations.
- Commissioned officers of the Public Health Service and NOAA.
This protection is intended to stay certain civil obligations and actions so that servicemembers are able to pay full attention to their duty and to relieve stress on their families at home. The act also limits the amount of interest that may accrue on debts; protects private life and health insurance of those on mobilization or deployment; protects families and dependents from eviction; allows termination of leases under certain circumstances, and even allows certain judicial proceedings to be stayed until the service member has returned home and is no longer on active duty..
If you are on active duty and facing repossession or garnishment, contact us at Van Horn Law group for a no charge initial consultation. We have offices in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, open seven days a week to help you when you needed.