Colorado Emancipation Law

By Hazel Baker

Updated December 19, 2018

Girl sitting on pier and lookingat the river


The Colorado emancipation law differs from that of some other states in that no statutory procedure exists and emancipation cases are left to the discretion of the courts. 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 For Minors

No statutory procedure exists under Colorado law when it comes to the emancipation of minors. This means that the decision to emancipate is left to the discretion of the court, which will decide whether emancipation is in the child’s best interests. A minor wishing to petition for emancipation must meet certain conditions. These include being a resident of Colorado and being at least 15 years old. The minor must also show that he or she is employed and can support themselves financially, and is not living with parents or guardians at the time of the emancipation. The consent of both parents or guardians is generally required, although this can be waived under certain circumstances.

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.

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. Child support is another consideration. 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, though 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. Emancipation terminates child support payments. For this reason, it is unlikely that an individual in receipt of child support would seek emancipation.

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.