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Who's going to pay the bills?

April 7, 2003
by Tim Waller

Greer, SC- One of the questions that often comes up when husbands and wives are shipped overseas is "who's going to pay the bills?"

Fortunately there is help available.  Before he left to serve his country, Corporal Lee Smith, was a sandwich man. Now wife Jessica is running the business, and so far, it hasn't been easy! "It’s just a lot. It's everyday. Things come in every day. Things Have to go out everyday. Federal taxes, state taxes, city taxes. I had no Idea what he handled!"

That’s where the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act comes in. It's a law to protect families while loved ones are on active duty.

Pearl Polto, consumer advocate, says, "The creditors and the bill collectors and the mortgages, banks and the landlords are unfamiliar with this act. They are going overboard saying we want your car, your home."

Under the act, credit card, car loan and mortgage interest rates can be dropped down and capped at 6-percent. There’s also protection from being evicted if you rent. Plus, all civil proceedings, like bankruptcy, divorce and foreclosure, can be delayed for the length of military duty.

But, there is a catch to all this. "They have the right to say no, we want all of our money, but you have the right to petition to a judge." says Polto.

And the protection doesn't automatically kick in when a spouse or other family member goes to war. It’s up to you to contact your creditors, and provide them with documentation.

Jessica Smith is using the Soldier’s and Sailor's act, to lower the payments on their business loan. Since husband lee could be away for a year, or even longer.

posted at 5:05PM by dave.miller@walb.com