Under Colorado state regulations, child support orders usually continue until the child turns 19. This is the legal age of emancipation in the state. There are, however, a number of exceptions to this rule that could shorten or extend the time a parent needs to pay support for their child. You may also need approval from the court in some cases before you stop paying after your child turns 19.
If you believe your child’s other parent stopped paying prematurely, or if you are curious about your own payments, the Shapiro Family Law team is here to help. Our child support lawyers can answer your questions about what age child support stops in your case. We can handle any legal action necessary to end your child support obligation once your child reaches the age of emancipation. Call 303-695-0200 today for help.
When Is the Age of Emancipation 19?
If the child in question is the only child included in the child support order, or they are the youngest child in the family, the child support obligation likely ends with their 19th birthday. Once you double-check to ensure they do not meet any exception to the rule, you can stop paying the month after they turn 19.
If there are other children on the child support order or there is an exception to the rule that applies in your case, you may need to go before a judge before stopping payments.
What Are the Exceptions to This Age Limit?
Not all child support obligations end when the child turns 19. There are exceptions that mean support continues past their birthday and some that allow the support to end sooner. This is important because if you quit paying early, you could owe significant unpaid support and interest and run into legal trouble.
Circumstances That Extend Support
Teens who are still in high school on the day they turn 19 should continue to receive support until:
- The end of the month of graduation; or
- They drop out; or
- They turn 21 years old.
Some families have different child support orders if their children have special physical or cognitive needs. Children with disabilities who require lifelong care may receive continued support to help offset the costs of their ongoing care. If your child has a long-term disability, give us a call. We can examine your child support order and help you understand your obligation.
Circumstances That Shorten Support Obligations
More commonly, there are situations where a teen becomes financially independent before they reach the age of 19. When this occurs, state law allows you to stop paying child support. This could apply to your situation if:
- Your child moved out of the home and has their own job;
- Your child joined the military; or
- Your child got married.
How Can I Change My Child Support Obligation?
When the youngest child on a support order reaches the age of 19, the obligation automatically ends-unless there is an exception in play that extends the support. No one needs to file a motion or go before a judge.
If the child in question is not the youngest, however, the court order will not automatically change when they reach age 19. You will need to seek a support modification before you can stop paying support for the older child.
There are also a number of other reasons why you might need to modify a child support order through the years. Losing your job, getting a better job, or finding your child meets one of the exceptions to the standard age of emancipation are all good reasons to consider going to court and asking for a modification of your support obligations.
We can help you with your child support modifications. Our attorneys will offer their best advice on the actions you need to take before stopping support payments.
How Do I Contact a Family Law Attorney About My Child Support Obligations?
At Shapiro Family Law, our Denver family law attorneys go above and beyond for every client we work with. We care about you and your family and will work to ensure you get the most favorable outcome for you and your children. We can answer any questions you have about your current support orders, and help you try to change your support obligations to fit your circumstances. If your child qualifies for an exemption to the age of emancipation, we will help you end your support obligation. Call our Denver office today at 303-695-0200 and let a member of our team review your case.