Colorado family law includes basic child support guidelines to determine payment based on the combined income of the parents plus any required adjustments. While most states end child support payments at age 18, or when a child graduates from high school, some states require the paying parent to continue paying child support until age 19. Colorado is one of those states.
Colorado law requires the paying parent to continue past age 18 under the premise that children aren’t typically ready for self-sufficiency at age 18. Many go to college or take entry-level jobs that don’t provide enough income for self-support. In Colorado, 19 years old is considered the most appropriate age to cease child support requirements except in specific situations, making 19 the commonly accepted age of majority in the state.
Caveats Concerning Child Support In Colorado
While in most cases, child support payments in Colorado end when a child turns 19, it’s important to keep certain caveats in mind. For example, support only ends when the youngest child turns 19. That means if a paying parent supports 2 or more children, their payments don’t change when the oldest turns 19 unless they file a specific motion for modification. Payments do not automatically modify.
In some cases, a child becomes emancipated before age 19. This includes children who leave home to work, children who marry, and children who join the military. These circumstances indicate self-sufficiency and the court is likely to find that the paying parent no longer has to provide support payments to a self-sufficient child even if they are under age 19.
When Child Support Extends Beyond Age 19
In some circumstances, the court may require a parent to continue paying child support beyond age 19. This may be the case under the following conditions:
- The child is 19 but hasn’t yet completed high school
- The child is going to college AND both parents agree to continue support payments
- The child is going to college and continued payments for college were part of their signed mediation agreement
- A child has a disability and is physically or mentally incapable of self-support
- The obligation to provide medical insurance may also extend under these circumstances
Whether or not continuing paying child support while a child goes to college was a part of their divorce agreement, parents are certainly free to privately agree to continue support in unofficial ways through private payments or by splitting costs for expenses such as:
- Living expenses
Is There a Procedure For Ending Child Support In Colorado?
Since 1997, child support payments end automatically when the last or only child turns 19 unless circumstances require continuation. Prior to 1997, the paying parent had to request a stop to child support payments, which unfortunately led to many parents discovering they were listed as behind on payments because they assumed the demand ceased automatically.
Now, the state automatically stops the requirement, however, in cases of garnishing of wages for child support payments, it is the payer’s responsibility to supply a court order or a statement from the payee that income assignment should cease.
If you have questions about your child support payments, the experienced Denver child support attorneys at Ciancio, Ciancio, Brown Law Firm in Denver can help you understand your rights and obligations under Colorado family law.