The Colorado statute regarding child support provides clear guidelines as to when a child “emancipates” for the purpose of determining when a child support obligation terminates.

A child is generally considered emancipated in Colorado when he or she turns nineteen (19) years old.  At this point, a child support obligation is terminated without a filing of a motion by the obligor.  However, please note, if you have more than one child subject to a child support order, you will need to file a motion to modify child support once your oldest child turns nineteen years old in order to reduce the current child support order.

There are some exceptions to this rule.  If a child is found to be mentally or physically disabled, the Court may consider this child to not yet be emancipated for purposes of child support at the age of nineteen and beyond.  If the Court finds a child to be mentally or physically disabled, the Court may order continued child support, responsibility for continued health insurance coverage, and/or continued payments of medical expenses.

A child may also be considered “emancipated” before he or she turns nineteen.  If parents enter a written agreement that a child is emancipated, then child support will terminate.  If a child is in active duty military, he or she may be considered emancipated.  If a child marries before he or she turns nineteen, the child will also be considered emancipated.  However, if the marriage is dissolved, annulled, or declared invalid, before the child turns nineteen or otherwise emancipates, child support may be reinstated.

Another caveat to emancipation, is whether or not the child is still in high school or an equivalent program.  If a child is already nineteen, but has not graduated, child support will continue until the month following graduation.  Furthermore, if your child drops out of school or for other reasons is not enrolled, but reenrolls, child support can be reinstated until the month following graduation, or until he or she turns twenty-one (21), whichever occurs first.

Finally, the Court may also find that a child is emancipated for reasons not specifically listed in the statute.  For example, has your child dropped out of school and earns his or her own income?  Or, for some other reason does not need the support of his or her parents?  Then, the Court may make a finding that the child has emancipated for the purposes of considering child support.  If you would like to speak with an attorney to determine whether emancipation has occurred, please contact the Hulse Law Firm at 720-773-2900.