When Does Child Support End?

Today we’re going to a little bit about child support and when child support end, and how to get a court order that says that I don’t owe child support any longer.

A feature of Colorado’s child support law is that child support must be paid until a child turns 19 years of age or is considered emancipated by law. If a child has special needs the court may have jurisdiction to determine that child support be paid beyond age 19.

What do you do when children that you’ve been paying child support for, are turning 19 years of age? The most common way is for the parties to renegotiate the child support amount as each child turns 19 years of age. That would require exchanging financial affidavits and child support worksheets. This is important because many people think, “If I have three children and I’m paying 1,000 dollars a month on child support, when the oldest turns 19, I’m just going to subtract one third of the 1,000 dollars and that’ll give me child support payments for the other two.” That’s not necessarily so. We use child support worksheets and a lot of times those child support calculations need to be re-figured as each child turns 19.

You’re not allowed to unilaterally change a child support amount, unless there’s a written, signed agreement of the parties or a court order. So it requires a motion to modify when each child turns 19, except when there’s only one child and that child has turned 19. Then you can terminate child support. I’ve had a lot of cases in the past where the parent who is paying child support has the money taken out of their pay check, and the other parent, even though the children turned 19, refuses to allow the garnishment or the wage assignment to be canceled and we have to go to court and file a motion.

By the time we get to court, often time the parent has overpaid in child support. Meaning the parent who’s received the child support will owe money back to the parent who’s been paying it.

This is another situation where an experienced family law attorney should know the law and should be able to help you navigate through the motion to modify or terminate child support when a child turns 19 years of age.

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