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Name: In re Amber M.
Case #: D055539
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 05/24/2010
Summary

Father was entitled to a stay of the proceedings under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Father appealed the denial of his request for a stay of dependency proceedings under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The trial court denied the stay because the letter submitted by father’s commanding officer did not demonstrate that his military duty prevented his appearance at the proceedings. Father contended on appeal that the stay request met the SCRA requirements and that the court erred by ordering a voluntary plan without notifying him and obtaining his consent. The appellate court reversed, concluding that liberally construing father’s application for the stay, it substantially complied with the requirements of the SCRA. Even assuming it did not meet the requirements, the court abused its discretion by denying a stay. The application for a stay confirmed father’s unavailability to participate in the proceedings, and it was undisputed that he was unavailable to appear on the date of the jurisdiction/disposition hearing. The court should have granted a stay at least until it received further information from father’s commanding officer regarding his availability.