Raising a child is difficult enough when the parents are married to one another and running a single household, but when the same income is divided between two households after a divorce, it can be even more financially devastating. Child support, monetary payments from one parent to the other, for the purposes of keeping up with the child’s expenses, are supposed to ease the financial burden on the custodial parent. The child support agreement lays out its uses that the parents have either agreed to or the court has ordered.
The agreement should also lay out when child support payments will terminate. In Colorado, they are generally required until the child turns 19—the legal age of emancipation. However, this should not be considered the rule for everyone—certain circumstances can extend or shorten the period payments are owed.
Child support payments continue until the youngest child turns 19 or the only child turns 19. However, one should not assume that their payments end automatically. For example, if someone is still in high school when they turn 19, obligations continue until the month he or she graduates in, until they drop out or they turn 21-years-old. Child support obligations also differ if the child has special cognitive or physical needs. Additionally, if someone has a condition that requires ongoing care, then support payments may continue indefinitely to counter those costs. Child support obligations can also be shortened, if the child joins the military or gets married.
In order to make sure one does not stop paying when one is legally obligated to continue, it is important to understand one’s obligations. The child support agreement is often the first place to look for answers, but it is important to make sure such provisions are included in the agreement. Consulting an experienced attorney to discuss one’s unique situation may be beneficial.