How should you talk about your divorce at work? Should you at all? The answer? Yes, you should open up to certain people you might work with about what you’re going through. Just be careful about how you choose to do it.
We always tell clients to keep their personal wellness at the forefront during a divorce or separation. Happiness in your career and work life is an important part of your emotional and financial well-being.
With that in mind, the same practices for achieving a healthy and secure personal life apply at work.
Be Honest with Your Boss
Even if you are lucky enough to have an amicable divorce, separating from a long-term partner will impact your work life despite your best efforts. It is normal, and it happens to everyone. Expect it, and don’t beat yourself up over it.
Do your best not to let the negativity around your separation affect your work, but it’s probably a good idea to let your manager know what you are going through. Be honest about how your new situation might affect you, especially if you are dealing with child custody arrangements with pickups and drop offs and new responsibilities.
Usually, your direct manager is someone with whom you have a close working relationship. It is in their best interest that you do well at work.
Understand that your boss is a human being. Under normal circumstances they are willing to accommodate employees however they can, and create an environment that is emotionally supportive. Most are willing to accommodate short term flexibility at the very least.
You don’t need to get into the gory details to create an important ally at work.
Avoid Venting to the Whole Office
Many people have co-workers who are good friends. Sometimes that creates a difficult situation for someone going through a divorce or separation.
It’s good to have one, two, maybe three close friends to dump on emotionally during a divorce. That might include someone with whom you work, and that is fine.
But remember, the more people you tell, the more questions you have to answer. With your co-workers, it is best to set boundaries in terms of who you're going to let into your personal drama.
You might also set boundaries around how often you allow yourself to talk to close friends about your situation. Perhaps 10 minutes every two hours to vent. Anything more than that can be an all-consuming emotional treadmill that interferes with productivity.
Take Care of Yourself and Take Care of Business
There is nothing easy about a divorce. If you're not taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually, it takes its toll.
Emotionally exhausted people make stupid mistakes. They aren’t looking at life through a healthy prism, with their head in the sand. They don't embrace, face and address what is in front of them.
Emotional duress is bad news in your personal life, and it affects your work performance as well.
In the long run, your career is one of the things you’re able to keep in your divorce. Get the rest you need, check any substance abuse issues that may arise, start going to a therapist—do the things you need to do to show up as your best self at work.
Maintain the Status Quo for Your Earnings
Divorce is as expensive as it is emotionally draining. You may feel the need to pick up extra work to compensate for the extra costs related to maintaining two homes.
In the short term, scrambling to earn more money before a divorce is final is generally not a good idea.
If you're the supporting spouse, it's possible your former spouse could claim you make higher earnings at an artificial and elevated level. That, and after taxes and paying support, usually you're no better off financially from the extra work you pick up.
- How Does Marital Standard of Living Affect Spousal Support
- Understanding Temporary vs. Long Term Spousal Support
- How is Child Support Determined
Keep in mind that working extra means you have less time for the kids. An argument could be made that you are not available enough to care for the children.
If you artificially deflate your income, the court could still use prior figures and you could be obligated to pay support at an amount above your earnings and capabilities. It’s best to adjust to the separation prior to determining if drastic measures are required to modify your workload.
When increasing your workload, you run the risk of physically overextending yourself. Remember the mind, body, spirit wellness aspects that you have to evaluate. Keep focused on the things that matter—your kids, other family, and your wellness.
About the Authors
Jeremy Roark has practiced family law exclusively in the Inland Empire for over ten years. He has experience in handling divorce cases and related legal issues, such as child custody and support, asset division, spousal support, custody jurisdiction and domestic violence and restraining orders.
Jim Parke has 41 years of experience practicing law in California. He is an esteemed expert in all areas of family law and is recognized as among the elite attorneys practicing in the state.
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