Dealing with divorce at work is never easy. Not only is divorce an emotional and difficult time but it is also often exacerbated by disagreements and disputes between the divorcing parties. Even an amicable split with little or no property and assets involved can get messy.
While it might be your first instinct to grin and bear it in order to get on with your daily life, experts say that this is the worst approach to take. They advise that you open up to those around you — especially with managers and colleagues at work.
5 Tips for Dealing With Divorce at Work
1. Tell Your Managers
Your manager needs to know that you’re going through these major changes in your personal life. This is because your divorce will inevitably spill over into other aspects of your life, including work.
It’s reasonable to expect your boss and employer to offer some degree of flexibility and support. However, they can’t be expected to do this if they are unaware of your change in personal circumstances. You don’t have to divulge everything, but you can ask for some flexibility when it comes time to meet with your lawyer, attend court hearings, or make other essential meetings. Divorce is a difficult time in your life, and it can become overwhelming. Making sure that your manager is aware of your situation means that they will be more understanding if you become overwhelmed and need time to yourself.
When dealing with divorce at work, it’s up to you whether you tell colleagues. If you do, make sure you tell your manager first. This will avoid putting colleagues in an awkward position. It will also help you retain your relationship with your manager.
2. Speak To Your HR Department
It is likely that you will need some help from your HR department during your divorce. You may need to explore pension options and work with the HR department to change your working hours, especially if you have children and will be getting access rights.
Your HR team will keep all information relating to your divorce and personal circumstances private. If you can, email your HR department rather than trying to explain the problem in person.
If you have insurance and other finances arranged through work, remember that you will need to change your next-of-kin and beneficiary details; otherwise, your ex-spouse could still receive payments in the future.
3. Plan Your New Life
Divorce is going to lead to some massive changes in both your personal and professional life. Depending on your family and personal circumstances, you may suddenly find that you have to drop the kids off at school, pick them up when they finish, or even struggle with access to childcare. Because of this, you may need to change your working hours.
After any divorce, both parties may find that they are worse off financially – at least in the short term. This is especially true if you suddenly have to pay for the upkeep of an entire household without support from a partner.
4. Don’t Make Rash Decisions
Although there will be a lot of potential changes about to happen in your life, you should avoid making any rash decisions. Splitting from a long-term partner is emotionally challenging, and while you will have to make some important choices, don’t rush into any of them. For example, leaving your job because you have split from your partner can have long-term, negative effects on your life. Take some time to explore and consider all of your options — and never assume that your current employer is unwilling to work with you. In many cases, employers are open to being flexible. They will work with you to try and determine what you need and how you can both work to achieve it.
There have been cases where a divorcing partner has turned down promotions or pay raises simply to avoid paying more alimony or maintenance. If this comes up during divorce proceedings, it can be held against you by the courts when making their final decision. It also means that you are losing out on extra money since you will not be expected to pay the full amount of the post separation/divorce pay increase to your ex-partner.
5. Look After Yourself
Divorce is one of the most challenging things a person can go through in life, even if you were the one who actively sought the divorce and know that it is the right decision. Along with big life changes that come as a result of splitting up from a long-term partner, the divorce proceedings themselves can be very difficult to deal with. Dealing with divorce at work isn’t any easier, either.
Some people tend to drink more or eat more as a result of a divorce. While these are considered natural responses to such challenging situations, you need to ensure that you stay healthy and look after yourself.
Consider joining a gym or taking up running, rather than visiting the local pub for happy hour. Read more rather than eat more, and make sure that these changes in your personal life have as little impact as possible on your career and working life.
In many countries around the world, people are given time off during their divorce in the same way that new parents get maternity and paternity leave or grieving employees get time off to deal with their loss. The first few weeks of the separation are likely to be the most difficult. Consider asking your employer if you can have some time off. You should also try to avoid spending too much extra time at work (perhaps in order to avoid thinking or doing anything about your divorce) and take some time to start dealing with your situation.
Divorce is never easy, and the more complicated it is, the more difficult it will be. However, most workplaces are understanding if they are kept informed. Your employer will want to work with you to ensure as little disruption as possible while also ensuring that you have the flexibility you need. With that said, the key to ensuring as smooth a transition as possible is communication. When dealing with divorce at work, make sure to let your managers and HR department know what is going on and give them as much notice as possible if you do need time off. You should also try to ensure that you stay healthy and don’t make rash decisions regarding your future during this tumultuous time.
Rick Marsh is a content writer and outreach manager for GarrattsSolicitors.co.uk, who offer extensive personal legal services, including for those that are splitting from or divorcing their long-term partner.