You may always be a parent to your child, but your legal obligation to provide support for your child will end. Colorado law calls for child support to continue until the child turns 19, or 21 if the child is still in high school. There are exceptions for cases where the child has a serious physical or mental disability.
People sometimes talk about child support as though one person is giving money to an ex, but the law doesn't really look at it that way. Rather, Colorado law looks at child support as a legal obligation both parents have to provide for their child. This obligation is meant to pay for basic necessities such as food, clothing and shelter, as well as medical care, education costs, child care, extracurricular activities, travel and entertainment.
When determining the amount of child support, a court calculates a percentage of the combined gross income of the parents. Typically, this is about 20% for one child, and about 10% more for each additional child. The court also looks at other relevant factors including the child's financial resources, the financial resources of the custodial parent, the financial resources of the noncustodial parent, the standard of living the child would have had if the parents had stayed together, the child's needs and physical and emotional condition.
Parents can negotiate a child support arrangement, but the arrangement must meet minimum standards under Colorado law. A parent cannot typically negotiate away any obligation.
All this sounds like a lot of work, and it is. Once you have gone through the effort of establishing a child support order, it isn't much fun to change it. However, life can throw a lot of changes at parents and their children.
When a child's needs change, or a parent's ability to pay changes, it is important to seek out a child support modification. If you have lost a job or experienced another financial setback, get started on a modification as soon as you can, before you fall behind in your payments. A family law attorney can help fathers and mothers through the process.