Working through your divorce at work

Charlotte Friedman, founder of the Divorce Support Group, gives some tips on how to get through divorce when you’re a working mum and suggests where you can go to get more support.

It’s not just one’s personal life that suffers during a divorce. Breaking up from a partner is a form of bereavement, and there is no doubt that it affects the ability to work too. Recent research from the USA reveals that divorce costs American businesses around $300 billion per annum.

When going through a divorce it is more than likely that you are experiencing a tidal wave of unwelcome emotions. Despite one in three marriages now ending in divorce, you may feel alone and isolated. You are also likely to be highly stressed, not sleeping well and unable to concentrate. You’ll feel overwhelmed by the legal process or the daunting prospect of being engaged in it, as well as concerned about your home.

How difficult then to work and care for children when all this is happening?

For some people, the workplace can feel like a refuge, a place to get on with something that is not affected by separation, and a place where maybe no-one knows about what is happening outside work. However, for many others, work can feel like another obstacle, a place where tears are not appropriate and where ‘keeping it together’ and producing good enough work is simply exhausting. Work can feel like a place where there is so much turmoil and devastation waiting outside that it is too difficult to do the job properly.

As a working mum, suffering from the effects of lack of sleep and stress, how are you to continue to be productive at work?

Firstly, by structuring your day in a way that gives you regular breaks and allows you time to clear your head. This will help ease potential feelings that you are drowning in your work. Also, by making the best use of any extra help around the office, such as interns and admin assistants, you can offload some of your smaller and time-consuming tasks. Thirdly, by making a list of the five most important tasks to complete each day they will seem far more manageable. If you have one main task, break it down into bite-size portions, and allocate some time for each. If you feel you’d like to talk to others, but don’t want to burden friends and relatives, there are also local divorce-specific support groups you can attend.

Divorce Support Group now provides webinars to help people cope with their divorce in the workplace. These webinars cover a number of topics, including how to manage your day; how to approach your boss to talk about time off to see your lawyer or mediator or attend a divorce support group; how to tell HR about what is happening outside work; and how to find a work mate to confide in so you don’t feel so alone. The webinars are designed to be listened to in a lunch break, at a desk, but entirely confidentially. The effect of the webinars is to enable you to feel supported and understood and to provide advice on how to cope. You will be part of a group of people listening anonymously from many businesses at the same time. You will be able to share stories on how you cope, what helps, what doesn’t and ultimately to gain some strength and knowledge from other people’s experiences.

Divorce Support Group will also be holding a Divorce Workout, an intensive one-day workshop, in central London on Saturday February 25th.

For more information call 0844 800 9098 or visit

* Charlotte Friedman is founder of the Divorce Support Group.

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