Among the questions I am frequently asked during divorce consultations is the one that pertains to the person’s employment status. Do I need to get a job after I get divorced? Variations to this question come up as well such as should I look for a job now or will it hurt my chances for spousal support or alimony?
Unfortunately, I cannot predict the future. Moreover, the answer to this question invites a whole host of other questions. How old is the person? Does he/she have any health issues that impact employability? Are there young children at home? Does the other spouse have adequate income to support two or more people?
Because of all the factors at play in a divorcing couple’s circumstances, there may be no clear answer to the question of whether a person needs to find a job or not as a result of the divorce. Also, the laws on spousal support (also called spousal maintenance or alimony) differ among states so it is best to get advice from an attorney licensed in the state where the divorce will occur. It is even better if the attorney rendering the advice practices in the area of divorce and family law.
Develop a plan
What I recommend to clients as we discuss the question of their employment is to develop a short-term and long-term plan. Divorce is a huge transition for people and there are many decisions to make about finances, living arrangements and children. It may be overwhelming to think about all the decisions but moving forward in your thinking can help immensely. So, develop a plan in the here and now along with a plan for where you want to be when the dust settles after your divorce. Consider how you will support yourself and manage expenses if you have spousal support or if you do not. Think about what potential employment opportunities exist if you need to work and if you should receive some vocational training or education as part of a short or long-term plan.
You will get through your divorce but taking ownership of your situation and developing a plan will make all the difference.