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Going through a divorce is stressful – and there is no doubt you may be feeling insecure and overwhelmed on many fronts, including your professional life. You may not feel up to working, but it could also be a time when you do need to earn money – to pay the bills and legal fees.
Even though 10 out of 1,000 couples divorce in the UK, according to government statistics, and it is widely acknowledged that divorce has an impact on productivity levels at work, it is not something that is often talked about openly. Ann Corrigan, founder of Clarity Family Law, shares some advice for dealing with your divorce in the workplace.
Expect things to be difficult: Don’t be unrealistic and put yourself under too much pressure. You are likely to be going through a grieving process, which takes time and accepting that you’re not going to be firing on all cylinders for some time will mean that you don’t add to your stress by expecting yourself to be perfect at this time.
Be open with your boss: There is no legal obligation to tell your boss that you’re going through a divorce, but if your boss is aware of what you’re going through, he or she may be more sympathetic to your situation. This could be very helpful when you need to ask for time off work to attend mediation meetings or when you need more flexibility after changes in parenting, for example.
How to break the news: Ask for a meeting and be straight with your boss. Explain you are going through a divorce and that you may need some time off or some flexibility for a few months until the dust has settled. Stay professional, don’t divulge personal details and don’t become emotional. Also reassure the boss that you are determined not to let this interfere with your performance.
Should I tell my colleagues? Again, this is a personal decision, but you can’t keep it a secret forever and rather than letting your co-workers speculate and talk about you behind your back, it may be a good idea to inform your closest colleagues – in private. Don’t make a meal of it – simply announce that you’re getting a divorce and that you’d really appreciate their support. Resist the temptation to talk about it all the time.
Keep your emotions in check: There will be times when you feel like crying or perhaps screaming at your ex-partner on the phone during the working day. Try to find a less public space for some privacy and if someone does overhear you, apologise and leave it at that.
Stay positive: This is easier said than done of course, but being at work may just be a distraction and may help you recover from the divorce quicker. In fact, many divorced men and women go on to find they finally have the freedom and courage to take on challenges or pursue dreams and ambitions that they’d shelved during their marriages.
Take time off: If you feel yourself struggling, take a few emotional sick days – when you’re really feeling down. Your boss may be more sympathetic to these requests if you’ve been open about your situation.
Get support: If you haven’t worked during the marriage but now need to find a job to support the family, you could ask your solicitor to argue for training as part of the settlement.
Reach out to your friends, reconnect with former colleagues and if you feel you’re not coping, a psychologist may be able to help you through the process.
*Ann Corrigan [pictured] is founder of Clarity Family Law, a specialist family law firm in Gerrards Cross offering discreet, expert advice on all aspects of divorce, including the division of high value assets, children disputes and issues surrounding unmarried families. Ann is also a qualified mediator and collaborative law specialist. Call 01753 880075; email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.clarityfamilylaw.co.uk.