(a) Applicability of section
This section applies to any civil action or proceeding, including any child custody proceeding, in which the plaintiff or defendant at the time of filing an application under this section—
(1) is in military service or is within 90 days after termination of or release from military service; and
(2) has received notice of the action or proceeding.
(b) Stay of proceedings
(1) Authority for stay
At any stage before final judgment in a civil action or proceeding in which a servicemember described in subsection (a) is a party, the court may on its own motion and shall, upon application by the servicemember, stay the action for a period of not less than 90 days, if the conditions in paragraph (2) are met.
(2) Conditions for stay
An application for a stay under paragraph (1) shall include the following:
(A) A letter or other communication setting forth facts stating the manner in which current military duty requirements materially affect the servicemember's ability to appear and stating a date when the servicemember will be available to appear.
(B) A letter or other communication from the servicemember's commanding officer stating that the servicemember's current military duty prevents appearance and that military leave is not authorized for the servicemember at the time of the letter.
(c) Application not a waiver of defenses
An application for a stay under this section does not constitute an appearance for jurisdictional purposes and does not constitute a waiver of any substantive or procedural defense (including a defense relating to lack of personal jurisdiction).
(d) Additional stay
A servicemember who is granted a stay of a civil action or proceeding under subsection (b) may apply for an additional stay based on continuing material affect of military duty on the servicemember's ability to appear. Such an application may be made by the servicemember at the time of the initial application under subsection (b) or when it appears that the servicemember is unavailable to prosecute or defend the action. The same information required under subsection (b)(2) shall be included in an application under this subsection.
(2) Appointment of counsel when additional stay refused
If the court refuses to grant an additional stay of proceedings under paragraph (1), the court shall appoint counsel to represent the servicemember in the action or proceeding.
Section was formerly classified to section 522 of the former Appendix to this title prior to editorial reclassification and renumbering as this section.
A prior section 202 of act Oct. 17, 1940, ch. 888, art. II, 54 Stat. 1181, related to fines and penalties on contracts, prior to the general amendment of this Act by Pub. L. 108–189. See section 3933 of this title.
2008—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 110–181 inserted ", including any child custody proceeding," after "civil action or proceeding" in introductory provisions.
2004—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 108–454 inserted "plaintiff or" before "defendant" in introductory provisions.
Stay of Judicial Proceedings
Pub. L. 102–12, §6, Mar. 18, 1991, 105 Stat. 37, provided that:
"(1) is on active duty; and
"(2) is serving outside the State in which the court having jurisdiction over the action or proceeding is located.