Colorado Emancipation Law

By Hazel Baker

The Colorado emancipation law differs from that of some other states in that it is not as expressly defined in terms of specific grounds for granting emancipation to a minor, and is often associated with child support cases. However, there are certain circumstances that can result in an automatic emancipation, and certain conditions that minors seeking emancipation must meet in order to have their petition for emancipation considered by a judge.

What Emancipation Means

Emancipation means that an individual is no longer under the guardianship of his parents or legal guardians, and is responsible for supporting himself financially. Emancipated minors are considered to be adults in terms of their ability to live independently, be employed, own property and be responsible for their own medical care and medical decisions.

Colorado Emancipation Law and Child Support

Colorado emancipation law is typically associated with child support cases rather than with the emancipation of minors. This is because in Colorado, child support payments do not automatically end until the child is considered to have reached the age of majority, or her 19th birthday. In other words, although an individual is considered to be a legal adult at the age of 18, child support payments may be extended until her 19th birthday.

This can occur if the recipient of the child support payments is still in high school or in a GED program after her 18th birthday, or if it is determined that she is unable to care for and support herself due to mental or physical impairments. Other circumstances and conditions can also result in an extension of child support benefits.

Colorado Emancipation Law For Minors

No statutory procedure exists under Colorado law when it comes to the emancipation of minors, which means that the decision to emancipate is left up to the discretion of the court. A minor wishing to petition for emancipation must meet certain conditions, which include:

• Being a resident of Colorado • Being at least 15 years old • Ability to prove that he is employed and can support himself financially • Consent of both parents or guardians (this can be waived under certain circumstances) • Not living with parents or guardians at the time of the emancipation • Proving that emancipation is in the child's best interests

Minors are automatically emancipated in Colorado if they are married or if they join the military, although both of these actions require the consent of their parents or guardians.

Legal Restrictions For Emancipation

In Colorado, emancipated minors can't vote until they reach the age of 18, can't purchase alcohol or cigarettes or drink alcohol until they reach the legal age, and can't get married without the permission of their parents. They also cannot possess firearms.

Becoming Emancipated

If a minor meets all of the conditions for emancipation in Colorado, the next step is to file a petition with the court. Proof of income, letters from employers and other documentation are required. The minor must also demonstrate that she has a full understanding of what emancipation means and how an emancipation ruling will impact her emotionally, financially and legally.