The divorce process is fraught with emotion and crowded with legal appointments and court proceedings. At the same time that you’re dealing with the end of your own personal world as you know it, the rest of the world continues on as usual, meaning you’re still expected to fulfill your professional responsibilities at work. In many cases, you may even feel pressured to work above and beyond your usual duties to make up for the fact that you’ll need to request time off for court dates and possibly make a change in your work schedule to accommodate a new child custody schedule. So how do you successfully navigate going to work during your divorce and manage to sustain your usual level of job performance throughout the process of preparation, financial disclosures, phone calls, mediation, and difficult discussions with a spouse?
Thankfully, there are some steps you can take during your divorce to minimize the impact of your emotional and legal struggles on your job performance.
Take a Few Days Off to Get Your Bearings
After you file for divorce or receive a spouse’s divorce petition, you can minimize your chances of allowing your divorce to negatively impact your work performance by taking a few days off. During your time away it’s important to meet with a Fort Collins divorce attorney to learn what your next steps should be. While you’re away from the office, do the following:
Begin gathering documents for full financial disclosure
Open a new bank account in your own name but without taking money out of joint accounts
Spend time alone to deal with painful emotions and the grieving process
Determine what to tell your supervisors and coworkers and draw a firm line about how much you plan to say about your personal life
Get as much rest and self-care as you can
By taking a few days away from work to deal with pressing legal matters and powerful emotions you can better focus on work when you return.
Tell Your Boss the Basics
You don’t need to open up your raw emotions to your boss, but you’ll have to take a deep breath and tell your immediate supervisor about your impending divorce. Schedule a meeting and keep it brief and factual. Explain that you will inform them of any dates you’ll be away from work for attorney meetings and legal proceedings as soon as you know them. Be prepared with a plan for how to address any work that you miss. Assure them that you’ll do your best to avoid scheduling conflicts.
If you work for a large company, ask if the HR department has any resources for divorcing employees that could benefit you. Your HR department may have critical information about how to handle your retirement plan and health insurance benefits during a divorce.
Limit Divorce-Related Communications at Work
Explain to your family law attorney and spouse that you’d prefer not to deal with divorce communications during your work day unless it’s urgent. Avoid dealing with the financial matters related to your divorce while on the clock, and communicate with your attorney through private email rather than your work email.
Avoid Making Big Changes in Your Employment
Not only is it unwise to make big decisions during an emotionally strained time in your life, but it’s also important to retain stability on the job while dealing with the financial aspects of a divorce, such as child support, distribution of marital assets, and spousal maintenance. Making changes can appear as though you’re attempting to hide assets or minimize obligations. It’s also not the time to take on life changes at work while you’re dealing with a major life change at home.
Minimize What You Divulge About Your Divorce to Colleagues
If you have a trusted friend at work, it may help to pour out your heart to them during lunch breaks away from the office, but otherwise, it’s usually best to avoid revealing too much personal information about your divorce with your coworkers so they aren’t bringing up the painful subject during office hours. Instead, make your office the place you go to escape personal drama and focus on the factual matters of your career. By making your workplace a safe haven away from the emotions and legal entanglements of the divorce process, you might find that you actually experience career growth during an otherwise tenuous time.