By: Jessica A. Bryant
When in the middle of a divorce or custody case one aspect that often gets less consideration than some of the immediate issues/concerns is how to handle the children’s post-secondary/college expenses. Child support in Colorado ends at the age of 19 unless the child emancipates before the age of 19 (becomes legally emancipated, marries, or if the child enters active military duty). Due to the nature of divorce and custody cases, often parties are focused on the here and now, instead of the future.
Under Colorado law, for any child support orders after July 1, 1997, unless the child is determined to be mentally or physically disabled, or unless the child is still in high school (but not beyond the age of twenty-one), a court does not have the authority to order any child support payments or other payments for the benefit of the child beyond the age of 19. This includes the court lacking authority, under child support and divorce statutes, to forcibly order either parent to pay for college (whether the child is under 19 or not). However, parents are always free to agree to provide for the children’s post-secondary (college) expenses and can do so via written agreement, filed with the court. That agreement will be every bit as legally binding and enforceable as any other court orders.