Like most parents in Colorado who pay or receive child support, you’re probably concerned about the rising cost of living and how it will impact your child support payments. This concern brings up questions for both parents. How long does child support last in Colorado? What if I can’t afford to pay the total amount? What if the parent paying child support dies? Whether you are making or receiving child support payments, you need to know when the child support payments will end so you can plan ahead financially.
At The Drake Law Firm, we know that caring for your child is your top priority. In this blog post, our team of experienced child support lawyers answers some of the common questions we receive about when child support ends. If you have additional questions or concerns, contact us today at (303) 261-8111 to schedule a consultation. We are here to help.
How Long Is Child Support Paid in Colorado?
If your child support order was issued in Colorado, unless the Court finds that your child is emancipated for another reason, emancipation occurs, and child support ends when your child reaches the age of 19. Child support lasts until the end of the month after graduation if your child is still enrolled in high school or a comparable program but not past the age of 21. If both parents agree in a written agreement, or if the child has a physical or mental disability and ongoing support is ordered, child support may continue past the age of 19.
If younger children still depend on the same child support order, the non-custodial parent’s obligation to pay child support does not end when one child turns 19. No termination of child support will be effective until the youngest or last child turns 19. However, the non-custodial parent may ask the Court to reduce the amount of child support due to the decreased number of dependent children.
What Does it Mean for a Child to Become “Emancipated?”
The term “emancipation” has a few different meanings. In the context of child support, it generally refers to the legal process by which a minor child is declared to be independent and self-supporting. The non-custodial parent is no longer responsible for paying child support to the custodial parent once the child attains emancipation.
All children become emancipated at the age of 19 by default. However, there are several instances where a minor child can become emancipated earlier such as when the minor child:
- Gets married
- Joins the military
- Petitions the Court for early emancipation
- Becomes economically independent and lives independently
If a child meets any of the above conditions that make them legally considered emancipated before turning 19 in Colorado, this will end the non-custodial parent’s child support obligation early. However, the non-custodial parent will still owe child support for the other minor children shared with their ex-partner who are not emancipated. Your child support lawyer can review your case to confirm any child support obligation in this scenario.
How Can Child Support Be Modified?
If your circumstances have changed since the Court issued your child support order, it is possible to get that order modified by filing a motion with the Court and attending a hearing. However, it’s important to note that there must be a material and substantial change in circumstances for the Court to consider modifying your child support order—simply wanting to pay less is not enough.
If you successfully get your child support order modified, it is also essential that you comply with the terms of that new order. Failure to do so could result in serious consequences such as wage garnishment or jail time.
What Happens If the Parent Ordered to Pay Child Support Dies Before the Child Is Emancipated?
The death of a parent ordered to pay child support can have a significant financial impact on the family, especially if the deceased was the primary wage earner. If you are a custodial parent in Colorado and your former partner has died, it’s essential to understand your rights and options. In most cases, the non-custodial parent’s estate will be responsible for paying any unpaid child support obligations.
If there are insufficient assets in the estate to cover the unpaid child support, the custodial parent may be able to collect from other sources, such as life insurance benefits or Social Security survivor benefits. However, these benefits are not always available or may not be enough to cover the total amount of unpaid child support. Custodial parents should also be aware that if they received public assistance when their former spouse died, they might be required to repay some or all of those benefits from the deceased’s estate. Consult with your child support lawyer to review your options.
Can a Non-Custodial Parent Voluntarily Continue to Pay Child Support?
Non-custodial parents are not forced to stop providing financial support for their emancipated minor or when their child turns 19. For example, many parents choose to continue to pay child support while their child is enrolled in college.
Contact The Drake Law Firm for Help with Child Support
At The Drake Law Firm, we are here to answer your questions about child support. We can also assist with modifying or enforcing child support orders and handle any child custody or other child support issues you may have. To speak with a Golden, Colorado, family lawyer, call us today at (303) 261-8111 or fill out our online form here. We are here to help!
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.