Can You Lose Your Nurse’s License for Failure to Pay Child Support?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Dec 01, 2023 | 0 Comments

The responsibility to pay child support is one that state governments take very seriously. Unfortunately, sometimes the financial burden can cause a strain, resulting in a string of consequences. But were you aware that failure to pay child support could also cause you to lose your nurse's license?

It's true. In many states, if not most, state licensing boards have the authority to suspend or revoke the licenses of any licensed professional for failing to pay child support. For nurses, this could mean losing the ability to practice their profession, affecting their livelihood, and more.

The Role of Licensing Boards in Child Support Enforcement

Child support enforcement agencies work hand in hand with licensing boards, including nursing boards, to ensure compliance with child support orders. Many states authorize their licensing boards to suspend or revoke a professional license if child support falls in arrears beyond a certain threshold. In the State of New Jersey, for example, the threshold is six months of non-payment. In Missouri, the threshold is three months or $2500 in arrears. This penalty can extend to other types of licenses, too--including business licenses, other occupational licenses, and even your driver's license.

The Cascading Consequences of Losing a Nursing License

The rationale behind the enforcement mechanism mentioned above is that the threat of losing one's ability to earn a living will incentivize compliance with child support obligations. The irony is that restricting or removing a person's livelihood can make a difficult situation even more difficult when it comes to maintaining child support. This can be especially true of nurses who put in long hours for often-modest wages. Let's look at the cascading effect that can happen if you lose your license due to child support issues:

  • Immediate loss of income. Without an active nurse's license, you can't work as a nurse in any capacity, and you'll be forced into unemployment or having to try to find work in a different capacity.
  • Restrictions from being licensed elsewhere. Disciplinary actions against nurses are reported to Nursys, a national database accessible by licensing boards in all states. This may limit or hinder your ability to get licensed in another state to try to get caught up on child support. (If you have a multi-state license through the Nurse Licensure Compact, this could also be impacted negatively.)
  • Missed opportunities for promotion or career advancement. You may have to pass on job opportunities that you were qualified for until the situation is resolved.
  • Difficulties with reinstatement. If you lose your license over non-payment of child support, you won't qualify for reinstatement until you're fully caught up with your payments (which may be impossible given the restrictions on your occupation).
  • Possible additional penalties. Without employment as a nurse, you're likely to fall even further behind in child support, opening the door to other enforcement actions such as seizure of property, liens, added interest, and possibly even criminal contempt charges.

Avoiding Loss of Your Nurse's License

If you are a licensed nurse who is struggling to meet your child support obligations, taking proactive steps early may help you avoid threats to your license. Three things you should do right away:

  • Communicate with your state child support agency: Letting the agency know about your difficulties is an important first step. The agency may be able to provide modified payment plans to help you get caught up.
  • Seek a modification of the support order: If your difficulties are more than a short-term setback or if the support order is simply unrealistic, you can petition the court to have the order modified.
  • Talk to a professional license defense attorney: If you're approaching a threshold of non-payment where the licensing board might get involved, hiring an experienced attorney early gives you the best chance of negotiating for a resolution that enables you to keep your nurse's license and get caught up on your payments.

The Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm has nationwide experience helping nurses whose licenses are under threat. We can represent your interests and negotiate with your Board of Nursing to obtain a workable solution that enables you to get back on your feet while protecting your career long-term. Call us at 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento has unparalleled experience fighting for the futures of his professional clients nationwide. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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