Few things are more terrifying than having to re-enter the workforce as a newly-divorced woman who has been a stay-at-home mom for years. Your skills are outdated, your confidence is shaky, and your wardrobe is pathetic! Oh, and you also still have to find a way to take care of your kids while you look for, and eventually hold down, a full time job.
As scary as it is to even think of getting a job, the truth is that going back to work after divorce could be the best thing that ever happened to you.
Of course, if you are getting alimony from your ex, you may be tempted to believe that you don’t need to go back to work after divorce. If your financial needs are being met, even for a few years, why worry, right?
Unless you happened to have divorced a multi-millionaire who left half of his estate to you and is paying you permanent alimony in the high six figures, your financial future will never be totally secure as long as you depend on someone else to provide for you. Period.
8 reasons why going back to work after divorce makes sense.
1. Permanent alimony may not be as “permanent” as you think. Your ex could lose his job, get sick, become disabled, or retire. All of these life changes could hamper your ex’s ability to pay you maintenance the way the divorce judgment requires. If any of these things happen, your ex could go back to court and ask to modify the support he is paying you. If the judge allows the modification, you could be in a world of hurt.
2. Your ex could just stop paying you. Sure, he will be in contempt of court. So what? People do it all the time. True, most people do what they are supposed to do. But if your ex decides to quit his job and stop paying you support, you could have real financial problems. Even if he is held in contempt, and even if you do manage to get paid someday, unless you have a “Plan B” for paying your bills, you could be facing a mountain of debt by the time all is said and done.
3. If your ex dies, your support ends. I hate to be morbid, but these things happen. Unless your ex died with a big life insurance policy naming you as the beneficiary, you could find yourself in real financial trouble if your support gets unexpectedly (and permanently) cut off. (If your ex does have a life insurance policy, make sure you periodically get proof that the policy is still in force!)
4. The longer you stay out of the work force, the harder it will be to get a job. The“hole” in your resume only gets bigger as time goes on. You also get older, which does not tend to help your job prospects very much. (I know. Sorry.)
5. Paying for your own health insurance is expensive. Getting health insurance through an employer-sponsored plan is way cheaper than paying for an individual policy or getting your health insurance through COBRA (COBRA allows you to get health insurance through your ex’s employer at the group insurance rate … which is still usually more expensive than an individual policy!)
6. Getting a job can give you the chance to build a nest egg. Even if you can pay all of your bills with what your ex is giving you in support, what happens if the roof leaks? What happens when your kids need braces? What happens when you need money for some large, unexpected expense that your alimony payments won’t cover? Earning “extra” money at a job allows you to save for a rainy day.
7. Getting a job can help you build your retirement account. Very few women get enough alimony to pay all of their bills, take care of the kids, and save money for their retirement, too. Earning your own income not only gives you money you can save for retirement, but if your employer has a 401(k) matching program, your can build your retirement account even faster!
8. Getting a job helps you rebuild your confidence and self-esteem. Getting a job, as scary as it is, will help you expand your skills, and fortify your confidence. Forcing yourself to face your fears and learn new things may be petrifying, but it will give you a sense of accomplishment that staying home just can’t provide.
Going back to work after divorce may never have been in your plans. Actually, getting divorced probably wasn’t in your plans. But, now that your plans have changed (whether you wanted them to or not) embrace the opportunity that life has presented to you.
This may not be where you ever wanted to be, but going back to work after divorce may put you in a more wonderful, secure, and confident place than you could have ever imagined.
Karen Covy, Esq.
Karen Covy is a family law attorney, mediator, advisor, and the author of When Happily Ever After Ends: How to Survive Your Divorce Emotionally, Financially, and Legally.
Karen started her legal career as a trial lawyer almost 30 years ago, and with decades of experience seeing how the court system works, is now firmly committed to helping people resolve their disputes outside of the court system as much as possible.
As a divorce lawyer and educator, Karen helps people understand the divorce process, and their options, so that they can make the choices that are best for themselves and their families. She blogs regularly at karencovy.com and contributes to blogsondivorce.com.
Karen has been a guest on WLS TV and has frequently appeared on radio talk shows, including WGN Radio, and Your Time on Kim Iverson.
Karen graduated from Western Michigan University and the University of Notre Dame Law School. To find out more about Karen’s background and credentials, visit karencovy.com.