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Does failing to pay child support affect a professional license?

If you're behind on your child support in California, you can be subject to a number of punitive measures -- including the loss of your professional license.

This is true even if your children are now grown and your debt is actually to the state -- which can happen if you were unable to pay the support while your children were minors and the state stepped in to provide them with some form of public assistance.

It's important to understand that stripping your professional license away isn't the first move the state will make. After all, you need the ability to earn a living if you're going to pay what you owe in support. However, once the process is started, you need to act quickly if you want to preserve your right to practice your trade -- whether you're a physician, nurse, realtor or any other type of professional.

What can you expect to happen? Generally speaking, the court will try several other measures to get you to pay the delinquent child support. If you don't comply, you'll eventually end up on the state's list of "absent" parents. At that point, you'll be given a notice that you have only 150 days to pay the full arrears or lose your professional license.

If you need to renew your license within that time, you won't be able to get a permanent license. Instead, you can only receive a 150-day temporary registration instead.

The danger to your ability to practice is very real -- so it's important to try to avoid falling behind on your support whenever possible. If you're experiencing financial difficulties, take a proactive approach and go back to family court. Ask the judge to modify the existing support order so that it's within your reach. In the meantime, make as much of the payment as possible.

If you owe a hefty past-due amount to the state, rather than directly to your children, it may be possible to qualify for California's Compromise of Arrears Program. The program can allow you to pay less than the full amount or make payments -- which will allow you to keep your name off the list of absent parents and your professional license intact.

Source: MBC.ca.gov, "ALERT - Potential License Denial or Suspension for Failure to Pay Family Support," accessed May 18, 2018

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