What Do I Need to Know about Child Support and whether Child Support can be Terminated in Colorado?

Decisions regarding child support, including when the obligation to pay can be terminated are found in C.R.S. § 14-10-115.

In addition to a parent’s income, factors considered by the Court in determining the appropriate child support order include the cost of child care, the child’s share of the health insurance costs, medical expenses, and various other expenses. The law can seem quite complicated to those who are not yet familiar with its nuances and exactly how the law applies to different situations. This is especially true when a family includes parents earning income that is not from a full-time salaried position because the earnings are so unpredictable. The court might need to analyze business expenses, consistency of work, and other issues if a spouse is self-employed or working in an unpredictable situation.

Child support is also determined based upon the number of overnights that the child spends with each parent. Colorado courts do not allow parents to waive child support obligations, even if they both agree payment from one parent to the other based on their unique circumstances makes this their preference. There are instances when deviations are allowed, but it takes time and effort to prove to the court that the request you are making is in the best interests of the children.

In general, child support obligations terminate automatically when a child reaches 19, and graduates from high school, becomes self-sufficient, or joins the military. There are exceptions to provides for an extended orders for child support, such as when a child is mentally or physically unable to be self-sufficient. In this instance, a child support obligation might be indefinite.

The support order can be modified before this time if life circumstances dramatically change, but it will not terminate until the court considers the child capable of providing for his or her own financial needs. According to C.R.S. § 14-10-115(1.6), there are situations in which child support payments do not automatically terminate. These include:

• Any retroactive payments of child support are still owed.
• In support arrangements for children with younger siblings, the court must officially terminate the elder, self-sufficient child. This is because the payment amount must be recalculated. It should never be assumed that the amount will decrease by whatever percentage seems appropriate to the parent. For instance, in support payments for four children, the amount owed will not automatically be 25% less once the eldest child reaches age 19.
• If a support order was arranged prior to July 1, 1997, a motion must still be filed and a court order must be received to terminate the child support obligation.

Parents should not terminate child support payments on their own unless they have been given specific instructions to do so by the court upon a certain date. If you have questions about child support or whether you are eligible to terminate child support payments, we can help. Contact Montgomery Little & Soran, PC at 303-773-8100.