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Getting divorced or going through a relationship breakdown is inevitably one of life’s great stressors.  Often, it can be truly overwhelming, taking up all your time, energy, emotions, not to mention impacting your finances. To avoid the stress of divorce also having a negative impact on your career, it’s important to concentrate on achieving a work-life balance while you are going through this major life event.  Here are some tips that we’ve found useful for maintaining stability in your worklife while your personal life is in upheaval.

1. Take some time off for self-care

Perhaps you’ve been blindsided by your partner’s sudden demand for a divorce.  Or maybe you’ve been unhappy for a long time, but now it’s crunch time and you’ve made a decision to split.  Either way, the very early stages of divorce can be especially distressing.  This is a good time to take some annual leave and have some time off for you to process what you are about to go through, without having to deal with the emotions while you are at work.  Spend time with friends and family, make plans for going forward, and focus on looking after your mental health.  Simply having a few days off can make a big difference.

2. Give your boss a heads-up

While it’s tempting to want to keep all the intimate details about your personal relationships completely private and separate from work, there is good reason for you to have some confidential discussions about your relationship breakdown with your boss and/or HR personnel in your workplace.

Your boss may have a better understanding of any potential temporary impact on your work and will usually be reasonable about making some accommodations in this time, whether it’s giving you extra flexibility in your schedule (so you can deal with court dates, legal meetings, property or parenting issues) or reassigning some of your workload for a period, to help you manage the stress you are going through.

Secondly, your HR department may be able to give you crucial information. For example, things like superannuation, insurance and other practical financial considerations. They should also be able to advise you on what paperwork needs to be changed in relation to your employment.

You don’t need to reveal all the intimate details.  Just stick to logistics: you are getting divorced or legally separated, you are committed to staying on track with your responsibilities as usual, but you may require some schedule flexibility.

3. Don’t deal with your divorce at work

Although it can seem convenient to deal with divorce-related issues while at work, it’s best to compartmentalise your divorce away from your workspace.  Mingling your work and your personal life at this time can just make your divorce stay at the top of your mind all day long, and this can make your work (and mental health) suffer. Set aside a dedicated part of your day outside of work hours to deal with your divorce admin, such as reading emails from your family lawyer, or responding with information they require.  If things must be dealt with during work hours, save them for your lunch break.  And avoid phone calls or exchanging emails with your ex while you are at work, as these are very likely to be emotionally charged and leave you feeling too upset to work productively.

4. Be determined to be productive

Staying in control of at work will help you reduce stress and avoid spiralling into negative self-talk and self-doubt.  As well as taking your mind off things, staying productive at work will help you regain a sense of control over your life that can feel fragile during divorce.  So when you’re at work, focus on being productive: make calls you’ve been avoiding; plan meetings; devise creative work solutions; tie up loose ends and finish projects.

5.  Stay organised

Keeping organised will ensure you perform your best during this tough time.  Ruminating on your divorce can be very distracting, so make sure to keep important work details on track by making plenty of notes and to-do lists, and being meticulous about using your diary to organise yourself.

6. Prioritise self-care

Now is the time to take extra care of your physical and mental health. Eat a well-balanced diet, and consider a multi-vitamin to replenish B-complex vitamins your body will quickly use under stress. Be sure to exercise and get enough sleep.

Carve out time for relaxation. If you take a walk with friends, have a nutritious dinner, read and relax and get a good night’s sleep, you’ll awaken more refreshed to tackle your job the next day. Besides, recreation time can help you balance the emotional overload you’ll experience for some time.

7. Don’t use your job to try to get an advantage in your divorce

Finally, be aware that there some career moves you shouldn’t make hastily.  Specifically, you shouldn’t quit your job or turn down a big promotion for strategic reasons during your divorce.  Deliberately trying to minimise your income in order to receive a larger settlement or to reduce your potential spousal maintenance or child support payments, or so that you can qualify for receiving more, never pays off.  Instead, it is held against you in divorce proceedings, not to mention having negative ramifications on your future career and income as well.

A divorce or relationship breakdown is one of life’s big challenges.  And when you’re going through such an emotionally-charged, difficult time as this, it can be hard to stay professional and productive at work.  But the above strategies will help you balance your personal life and work life so that your career doesn’t risk being derailed by your emotional turmoil.

If you need family law advice in relation to your divorce, please contact Canberra family lawyer Cristina Huesch or one of our other experienced solicitors here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400.Please note our blogs are not legal advice. For information on how to obtain the correct legal advice, please contact Alliance


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