Going through a major life event, such as divorce, is likely to impact on all areas of your life including your relationships with others, your health and, your work.


Separating your personal life and work life is easier said than done, even if you try to adopt a ‘leave it at the door’ approach to your work/life balance. Regardless of whether the divorce is mutually agreed or amicable, when one area of your life is turned upside down it can be difficult to continue as before.


However you are affected, it can start to become an issue if you are in a high-powered or responsible position at work or if you have a job that requires you to lead a team or be customer facing.


Finances become prevalent when facing the cost of divorce and starting a new life with one income. Often separating couples are concerned about losing their job as they navigate their way through the emotions of divorce due to the impact on their performance.


How Divorce Can Affect People At Work


Some people will use their work as a distraction from matters going on at home and throw themselves into their work more than ever before. Whilst this can sometimes work as a welcome interruption to upsetting life changes, putting additional hours in, or taking on more responsibilities at work whilst you are under stress can lead to a burn out or errors being made. Burying your head in work rather than facing pressing matters related to your divorce could cause you problems later down the line if you are not focusing on resolving conflicts.


It can be difficult to mask external problems whilst at work. If you are feeling tearful or having a particularly bad day, then this can often be picked up on by your colleagues or your boss. Some people will feel demotivated, unhappy, or irritable with others.


Quite often when going through a divorce your mind can become pre-occupied with worries and concerns or your brain may not be functioning as well as normal due to lack of sleep. Work deadlines could be missed, or mistakes made, which can add further to your anxiety.


In some cases people who are going through a divorce can become ill with stress or depression and require some time off work either through the discretion of their manager or use of a doctor’s note from their GP.


Tips on How to Cope


#1 Speak to Your Boss

You may not want to share your personal life with your manager or make your personal business public knowledge in the workplace. But a quiet, confidential word with your boss may help them to understand your situation and make some reasonable adjustments. Spare them the details of your separation and just let them know the position you are currently in so that they can provide you with the support you need.


#2 Don’t Have Contact at Work

When going through a separation or divorce there can be exchanges of phone calls, text messages and emails between you and your ex-partner. Try to avoid communication whilst at work as this can be distracting and upsetting. If you can, switch off your mobile phone or set it to silent. There is a way of only letting priority phone calls or messages alert you, so that you can avoid missing important calls whilst screening those to catch up on outside of working hours.


#3 Avoid Becoming Office Gossip

Whilst you may be happy to share what is going on with some close work colleagues, be mindful of sharing too much with too many people to evade becoming the topic of conversation at the water cooler. Avoid sharing too many details of your personal life with the wrong people in the office who may not respect your privacy.


#4 Be Discreet

It can be very difficult to paint on a smile when you are having a particularly bad day or a trying week and whilst it is unhealthy to bottle up your emotions, you should try to exercise discretion at work as much as possible. If you are feeling particularly tearful, then it may be worth seeing if you can work from home, close the door to your office or ask if you can work in a private office or quiet space for the day.


#5 Stay Organised

The mind can bogle when it is put under pressure. Try to stay as organised as you can to keep on top of things at work and avoid anything slipping through the net. Use a diary system, make plenty of notes in meetings, use to do lists and calendars. If you are feeling tried or stressed, take short breaks. It is sensible to sense check / proofread important emails before firing them off and ask for support if needed.


#6 Get Support From HR

You may find yourself needing to take some time off work or require some flexibility to attend solicitor’s appointments or court hearings. Speak to your HR Manager in good time so that they are aware of your situation. If you are finding it all too much to cope with then your employer may be able to offer you some additional support through your benefits scheme, for example, access to a counsellor. HR may also be able to help organise your workload, agree to changes in your employment or allow for compassionate leave.


#7 The Power of Good Sleep

It is important to rest and get a good quality sleep each night in order to face the day and any challenges it brings. Establish a good bedtime routine each evening so that you can relax, unwind, and wake up fresh the next morning. Walking into the workplace looking refreshed will save concerned looks or colleagues asking if you are OK.


#8 Take Care of Your Mental Health

It is vitally important to take care of your wellbeing whilst navigating a divorce or going through any major life events. Recognise your emotions, understand when you need to make changes, seek help when required and take time to practice self-care. Try to eat well, get regular exercise, avoid drinking too much alcohol, socialise, sleep well and take time to relax, doing things that you enjoy.


#9 Avoid Using Work as an Escape

Throwing yourself into work and unplugging from the reality of your divorce by busying yourself with extra work can only go on for so long before your burn out or break down. Use healthy ways to distract you from difficulties but do not block out your emotions by submerging yourself in paperwork.


#10 Use Support Networks Outside of Work

Spend your weekends and evening surrounded by positive influences that will keep your spirits up and keep you focused on the future. Speaking to close friends and family, socialising and keeping active will help you create a good work/life balance and provide you with the emotional support you need during tough times.


#11 Take Time Off

If you are able to, or feel that it would benefit you, then use your annual leave to take some time off. This could be used to de-stress or visit family, or you could use the time practically to meet with your lawyer, complete paperwork, get your house in order or see a financial advisor. Having set days to carry out the admin and seek advice can stop you from being distracted at work.


#12 Prepare a ‘Go To’ Answer

We have all been in the position where you are on the brink of tears and a concerned colleague or stranger asks you what is wrong. With good intentions this can sometimes be the worst thing to ask and the floodgates open. There may be times where you really do not want to discuss what is wrong and it is useful to have a quick, but polite response. Something along the lines of “I appreciate you asking, I am fine thank you” or “I am going through something at the moment, thank you for asking, I am OK”. These responses show that you do not wish to discuss any details but are courteous enough not to offend well-wishing work colleagues.


#13 Give Yourself a Pick Me Up

If you feel yourself lagging throughout the day, recognise small things that you can do to give your mood a boost. It may be saving a certain piece of work that you enjoy doing until the afternoon, turning on the radio, keeping a stash of your favourite treats in your office draw, a strong coffee or a lunchtime walk in the fresh air.


Legal Advice on Your Divorce


If you are looking for legal advice or support through your separation, then please get in touch with our Family Law Team who specialise in finances and divorce.


Call us on 01256 844888, email enquiries@lambbrooks.com or speak to our online chat assistant (who is a real person) at any time of day.


Whatever stage of divorce you are at, we are here to provide the essential information at the start, the knowledge to resolve disputes throughout and the expertise to untie your finances at the end for you to make a fresh start.


Other Articles You May Be Interested in Reading:

10 Things You Can Do To Prepare For Divorce

Introducing a New Partner to Your Children

Riding the Roller-Coaster of Divorce


The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.  The law may have changed since this article was published.   Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.