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When Does Child Support End in Colorado?

The Harris Law Firm

Child support is a crucial aspect of family law that ensures the well-being and financial stability of children whose parents have separated or divorced. It is intended to provide for the child's necessities, such as housing, education, healthcare, and other essential needs. In Colorado, like in many other states, child support typically continues until the child reaches a certain age or milestone. However, there are specific circumstances that can lead to the termination of child support payments.

Age of Majority

The most common reason for child support termination is when the child reaches the age of majority, which is 18 years old in Colorado. When the child turns 18, the non-custodial parent's obligation to pay child support usually comes to an end. At this age, the child is considered an adult and is presumed to be capable of self-support. However, there are exceptions to this rule.

For instance, if the child is still in high school when they turn 18, child support will continue until the child graduates from high school or reaches the age of 19, whichever comes first. This extension is designed to support the child's educational needs until they complete their high school education.

When Can Child Support End Early?

In Colorado, child support payments can end early under certain circumstances.

Here are some examples of when child support payments may cease before the child reaches the age of majority:

  • Emancipation: If the child becomes emancipated, meaning they are legally considered an adult before the age of majority, child support obligations may end. In order to obtain emancipation, the child must prove that they are self-supporting.
  • Child Enlists or Gets Married: If the child joins the military or gets married before reaching the age of majority, child support may end.
  • Parental Rights Termination: If the parental rights of the paying parent are terminated, they may no longer be obligated to pay child support.
  • Adoption: If the child is adopted by someone else, the parental responsibilities, including child support, may shift to the adoptive parent, terminating the original child support obligation.
  • Child's Death: Tragically, if the child for whom child support is being paid passes away, the child support obligation will end.

When Can Child Support Continue After the Child Turns 18?

In Colorado, parents are not automatically required to support their child's college education expenses. However, the court may order additional support for post-secondary education if the parents have the financial means to do so and if it is deemed appropriate for the child's future. This support is typically considered separately from regular child support and may continue beyond the age of majority.

Furthermore, if the child has a severe disability that requires ongoing care and support beyond the age of majority, child support may continue indefinitely. In such cases, the court may order the non-custodial parent to provide support for the child's special needs and medical expenses.

Are Child Support Payments Terminated Automatically?

Remember, child support termination is not automatic and a court order or agreement must be in place for the support obligation to end. Until a formal termination is established, the non-custodial parent is legally obligated to continue making child support payments as outlined in the original court order.

In cases where child support payments have fallen into arrears, meaning the non-custodial parent has not made the required payments, the owed amount does not terminate until it is paid in full. Even after the child reaches the age of majority, the non-custodial parent may still be required to fulfill their past-due child support obligations.

How Our Firm Can Help

Navigating the complexities of child support termination in Colorado can be challenging. Understanding the legal framework, milestones, and potential exceptions is essential for both parents and children. At The Harris Law Firm, we specialize in family law matters, including child support. Our experienced attorneys can guide you through the process, ensuring the best outcome for you and your children.

If you have any questions or need assistance with child support termination, contact us today for an initial consultation.


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Family Law Firm

If you are in need of a compassionate, skilled, and experienced Colorado family law attorney, The Harris Law Firm can help. If you have a legal question about a domestic relations issue, including divorce and the allocation of parental rights, please complete our contact form below. A member of our legal team will be in touch with you soon to arrange a private consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. Together we can find a resolution.
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