What Age Does Child Support Stop in Colorado?

Posted in Child Support on September 5, 2018

The goal of a child support agreement in a divorce or separation is to provide for the child’s best interests. No matter what this looks like, the Colorado courts will strive to fulfill it. The amount of money one spouse will have to pay to the other, the frequency of support payments, and the duration of the agreement will all depend on each family’s unique needs and circumstances. Knowing what age child support stops can help families plan for the future.

The Age of Emancipation

Emancipation refers to the point in time at which a minor comes of age or reaches adulthood. In general, child support payments must continue until a child reaches his or her age of emancipation. This age will vary state by state. According to Colorado laws, the age of emancipation in the state is 19. This means that for all child support agreements made in Colorado, the noncustodial parent will have to make payments until the child turns 19 – unless extenuating circumstances exist.

The age of emancipation in Colorado has been 19 since July 1, 1991. Prior to that, parents had to pay child support until the child was 21. If the courts issued your child support order before July 1, 1991, you may have to abide by the old age of emancipation. Otherwise, you will go by the new age of 19. Contact an attorney or your local county court for more information about your specific support agreement.

Exceptions to the Rule

Although the majority of child support agreements will continue until age 19, some exceptions to the rule exist. In a few special cases, a parent may have to continue paying child support past 19. In others, parents may agree to cease payments sooner than 19. Work with your family attorney to understand the rules that may apply in your case. In general, the following three situations could adapt a standard child support payment order in Colorado:

  1. If the child is still in high school by age 19. A child in high school at 19 who is still dependent upon the custodial parent (e.g., lives with the parent or the parent pays for the child’s education) may still receive child support from the noncustodial parent.
  2. If the child has a mental or physical disability. A child with a disability of any kind may be eligible to continue receiving child support as long as he or she depends on the custodial parent. As long as one parent is paying for the child’s medical care, nursing, housing, etc., that parent may qualify for child support.
  3. If both parties agree in writing to other terms. In most cases, a judge will agree to custom child support payment terms, as long as the couple can agree in writing to what those terms are. It is the couple’s prerogative to agree on either shorter or longer terms. A judge will generally grant custom terms if they provide for the child’s best interests.

Unlike alimony (spousal support), a child support agreement will not stop if the spouse remarries or otherwise changes financial station. The only time the courts may modify a child support agreement is if the paying parent requests a modification based on a change in financial status, such as a job termination. Otherwise, payments must continue until the child turns 19 in the state of Colorado.

How a Child Support Lawyer Can Help

These are the rules for child support payments in Colorado. If you or your spouse live in a different state, different rules may apply. The age of emancipation can vary from 18 to 21, according to state. A lawyer can help you understand your specific child support payment agreement, as well as your rights and responsibilities as either the custodial or noncustodial parent.

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