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When Does Child Support End in Colorado?


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 or who are otherwise not in a relationship with one another. 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 result in child support terminating at a different time.


The most common reason for child support termination is when the child reaches the age of emancipation. In Colorado, as in many other states, the age of majority or emancipation is different for different sorts of circumstances. For example, a person can vote at age 18 but cannot purchase or possess alcohol until they are 21 years old. For purposes of child support, the default age of emancipation in Colorado is 19 years old. When the child turns 19, the non-custodial parent's obligation to pay child support for that child usually comes to an end. At this age, the child is considered an adult and is presumed to be capable of self-support. There are exceptions to that default rule, though, some of which result in child support terminating before a child reaches the age of 19 and some of which can result in a child support obligation continuing after the child reaches the age of 19.


In Colorado, child support payments can end before a child reaches the age of 19 under certain circumstances.

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

  • Marriage: If the child gets married before turning 19 years old, any child support obligation that may exist for that child ends.
  • Active Duty Military: If the child enters active military duty, the child shall be considered emancipated and any child support obligation for that child ends.
  • Legal Emancipation: If the child becomes legally emancipated, meaning they are legally considered an adult before the age of majority, child support obligations may end. Colorado does not have an emancipation statute, but there are ways for courts to find a child has legally emancipated. If a court makes that determination, child support for that child typically ends.
  • Parental Rights Termination: If the parental rights of the paying parent are terminated, the ongoing obligation for that parent to pay support ends, though the parent would still be responsible for paying any arrears that accrued before their rights were terminated.
  • Adoption: If the child is adopted by someone else, the parental responsibilities, including the obligation to support the child financially, will also 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 for that child will end.


If a child is still in high school or an equivalent program when they turn 19, the child support obligation continues until the end of the month following graduation.

If a child is mentally or physically disabled, child support for that child may continue beyond the age of 19.


If a parent is paying child support for only one child, then the obligation to pay support for the child terminates automatically after that child turns 19. If payments were being made through an income assignment or were otherwise being automatically deducted from the parent’s paycheck or bank account, some additional steps may be needed to stop those automatic payments, but any amounts deducted or paid after the child’s emancipation should be refundable to the parent.

If a parent is paying child support for multiple children to the same co-parent and one of the children emancipates, the original child support order remains in place unless one of the parents files a motion to modify child support asking for support to be changed because of the oldest child’s emancipation. In that case, the child support obligation remains in place until a court enters an order modifying support.

Finally, it is important to remember in all cases that a child’s emancipation or any other end of a child support obligation for a child does not erase any child support that is still outstanding. In other words, if a parent is behind on child support payments when the child emancipates, the parent still owes the unpaid support.


Navigating the complexities of child support 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.

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