Mammalian neocortical neurons span one of the most diverse cell type spectra of any tissue. Cortical neurons are born during embryonic development, and their maturation extends into postnatal life. The regulatory strategies underlying progressive neuronal development and maturation remain unclear. Here we present an integrated single-cell epigenomic and transcriptional analysis of individual mouse and marmoset cortical neuron classes, spanning both early postmitotic stages of identity acquisition and later stages of neuronal plasticity and circuit integration. We found that, in both species, the regulatory strategies controlling early and late stages of pan-neuronal development diverge. Early postmitotic neurons use more widely shared and evolutionarily conserved molecular regulatory programs. In contrast, programs active during later neuronal maturation are more brain- and neuron-specific and more evolutionarily divergent. Our work uncovers a temporal shift in regulatory choices during neuronal diversification and maturation in both mice and marmosets, which likely reflects unique evolutionary constraints on distinct events of neuronal development in the neocortex.