Child support normally ends in Colorado when a child reaches 19. That’s the age of emancipation in the state. Starting then, child support obligations are automatically extinguished without the the spouse making the payments needing to file a motion.
Exceptions to this rule exist, as several circumstances can either lengthen or shorten the period. Child support can also be revised if there exists a noteworthy and ongoing change in situations.
If the child has not yet graduated from high school or a similar program, then child support payments may remain in place until the end of the month after the child graduates. If the child is not enrolled or leaves school but later re-enrolls, then child support may be restored the month after the child graduates or until they turn 21, whichever occurs first. Child support obligations may also go beyond the age of 19 if the child is physically or mentally disabled and unable to care for themselves.
There are other instances, though, when a child may become emancipated before turning 19. In that case, child support may be either stopped or modified. Examples of such cases are when parents agree in writing that a child is emancipated. Also, when a child becomes financially independent of his or her parents, or when a child enlists in the military.
A child may also be legally emancipated if they are at least 16 years old and marries. If the marriage is annulled, dissolved, or declared invalid before the child turns 19 or emancipates, however, then it is possible for child support to be reinstated.
Be aware that a parent’s child support responsibilities do not immediately end when a child turns 19 years old if there are younger children still dependent on same child support order. To be clear, no termination will apply until the youngest or last child turns 19. Instead, the parent may choose to motion the court to modify the child support obligation due to there being less children in need of monetary support.
One mistaken thought is that child support duties terminate when the parent paying child support dies. The fact is that child support survives death. This means the estate of the deceased parent may still pay for the child support responsibility. Should a party die before the child is emancipated, then it is possible for the couple to agree to or be ordered by the court to take out life insurance. That would go to the party paying child support in order to cover the standing obligation. Custody and child support decisions are never binding on the court; if the terms are unfair and unacceptable regarding maintenance then they will be stricken as well.