4 ways to keep it together at work when getting divorced

By Tonya Graser Smith

When you’re getting divorced, the last thing you need is for things to blow up at work. Yet you’re going to be distracted and not always able to bring your A game. How do you keep your professional life together when your personal one is falling apart? Here are four tips.

  1. Stop using your work email. Like right now.

People often use their work email addresses for all of their personal matters. That’s a big no-no during divorce or legal separation. I tell clients to immediately stop using work email for communicating with their ex, me or anyone having to do with their divorce, family and personal matters.

You don’t have as much privacy or control with your work email. What if there’s an email that could help your case, but you can’t get to it because your company purges email at regular intervals?

Or, what if your ex’s attorney sends a subpoena to your employer for emails that help that side. What if your company won’t provide those emails and ends up in a legal battle of its own? That’s a burden on your employer. And it’s not a good look for you.

  1. Tell your employer you’re getting divorced.

You might not do it on the very first day you separate from your ex and you certainly don’t need to tell the entire workplace, but at some point you need to tell your boss. The emotions and grief you experience will be akin to the death of a family member. Your direct supervisor needs to understand why you might be down in the dumps and that you know it doesn’t excuse poor work.

Also, if your case involves litigation, there will be days when you have to appear in court. You won’t be able to move around those dates very much, if at all, and you will have little notice. You need to give your boss a heads up that you might need to use some of your paid time off for court dates.

  1. Dig in. Embrace the distraction of work.

During divorce, people are often distracted at work. But there’s a flip side; sometimes people bury themselves in work to keep their minds occupied. Try to use work as a positive distraction. But know there will be times when you are just not mentally there. On the days when you can focus, go gangbusters at work and get ahead of it for days when you aren’t feeling it.

  1. Want a promotion? Now is probably not the time.

Your goal at work right now is to keep doing what you’re doing. Stay steady when the rest of your life is unsteady. It’s probably not the time to go for a promotion or change jobs. When you take on a new role at work, there are brand new expectations, demands and stress. You don’t need more stress right now.

If you were already up for a promotion or new job or something great comes your way during your divorce, you’ll want to consult with your attorney as to whether the new pay structure has a positive or negative impact on your case.

Finally, a caveat, in some cases you might make a purposeful change in your career while you are divorcing. It might be a lateral move or even a demotion if your goal is to have a job with less travel or better hours so that you can get a desired child custody arrangement.

Bottom line: Buckle down, keep it professional and embrace what you can control in your life right now — and that’s your work.