Given that Colorado’s legal age of emancipation is 19 years old, you may be wondering whether you (or the other parent) may ever be ordered to pay for your children’s college/postsecondary expenses. By “college expenses,” we mean tuition, fees and books, but not room & board, as those types of fees cannot be Court-ordered to be paid by either parent.

Per the Colorado child support laws:

  • If the child support obligation was created or modified BEFORE July 1, 1997, then the parents MAY be ordered by the Court to pay for college expenses.
  • If the original child support order was AFTER July 1, 1997, the Court may NOT require parents to pay for college expenses, unless the parents file a written agreement with the Court after that date.
  • The Court may NOT order a parent to pay for a child’s college expenses IN ADDITION TO child support for the same child.
  • The Court may NOT order the payment of college expenses after the child has reached the age of 21.

Despite the above, with respect to child support orders entered before July 1, 1997, the Court may, in its discretion, terminate child support and instead order both parents to contribute towards the costs of a child’s college or other postsecondary education. The total contribution amount may not exceed the basic child support obligation for the child receiving said education.. The parents then typically contribute to the sum according to their respective gross incomes. This amount to be contributed is subtracted from each parent’s gross income prior to calculating basic child support obligations for any remaining children.

Additionally, even if your child support order was entered after July 1, 1997, although the Court cannot force you or the other parent to pay for college expenses, it is still entirely possible to negotiate an amount that significantly reduces or eliminates a child’s obligations to pay for his or her own such expenses.

Please contact the Domestic Team at Feldmann Nagel Cantafio & Song PLLC for all of your family law needs.