How to handle job loss during your divorce
Going through a divorce is stressful enough, but if you add job loss to the equation you might feel overwhelmed. Sadly, going through a divorce will often lead to individuals falling behind at work, which might lead some employers to make a financial decision to let the person go. While many employers are supportive, not all can afford to pay an employee who is unable to do their job.
If you or someone you know is going through a divorce and also loses their job, there are a few things you can do to help them to adjust and manage the transition.
Check your rights
An employer can’t fire you because you are going through a divorce. They can only fire you if your divorce is consistently impacting your work performance, or if you commit an act of gross negligence as a result of your divorce.
Employers should go through all of the necessary grievance procedures before deciding to let you go. If you suspect they have not followed the rules, speak to a lawyer about your next steps as you might have grounds to sue.
Secure a reference
It might be tempting to burn every bridge on the way out, but try to keep things civil so that you can secure a reference. Most employers will be happy to provide a reference and may also agree to confirm that you decided to leave the company to focus on your divorce.
Keep things civil so that you have the option to rely on them when you are ready to start looking for a job again. If you leave things on a sour note, be prepared to be honest with employers when you start looking for work again. Most will be understanding that a divorce might lead to a temporary change to your ability to do your job, but that this situation won’t last forever.
Get your finances in order
If you have an emergency fund saved, it might be more difficult to access this while you are going through a divorce. Speak to your ex-spouse to reach an agreement on how you will handle this. They might agree that you can take half of the emergency fund, as long as this is reflected in the final financial settlement.
If you do not have any funds to fall back on, it’s time to start looking at what benefits you might be entitled to. You might also have unemployment insurance included with your mortgage, so speak to your lender to learn more. This may help to tide you over until you can secure another job.
Take some time to reset
If you were let go due to poor performance, it would be advisable to take some time to reset and determine what is going wrong. You might be distracted, unusually stressed, or not sleeping enough. Try to address the root cause of the problem before you attempt to reenter the workforce, or you may simply repeat the same mistakes. Speaking to a counsellor or therapist will help you to determine how to move forward and ensure that you are ready to return to work.
Start looking for work
If you were fired from your job due to poor performance, it might not be the right time to start looking for a similar job with a different company. You might use this opportunity to think about a change of career, or simply take a job that has less stress and responsibility.
You don’t have to disclose that you are going through a divorce when you apply for work. An employer cannot ask for this information, so don’t worry about disclosing this. If you have secured a good reference from your previous employer, you should have no issue finding another job.
Keep your solicitor updated
Changes to your income might change the course of your financial settlement, so it’s important to let your solicitor know what is happening. If you are entitled to spousal support, this may increase if you have lost your job.
Don’t try to conceal this from your solicitor, particularly if you are worried about falling behind with bills. The sooner you share your situation, the sooner you will be able to seek a satisfactory resolution to the problem.