How to deal with divorce in the workplace

Divorce|March 29th 2014

The newspapers’ divorce story of the week featured Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Martin and a very public announcement of their marriage’s demise. When the Guardian asked me to write about divorce and the workplace, the decision to go public (or not) seemed like a good place to start:

In case you’ve missed the hundreds of column inches attached to it, this week actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, the lead singer in Coldplay, announced their “conscious uncoupling”. They have been married for ten years which by Hollywood standards is pretty good going. What caught everyone’s attention, however, was the manner in which the couple made their announcement. They chose to post on Paltrow’s popular website, Goop.

While this probably isn’t how most couples would announce their split, divorce is an emotional roller coaster and when you are going through such a difficult time, it is a good idea to let others around you know what is happening in your life.

It is understandable that most people wince at the idea of having to dissect their failed relationships with friends and close family members, let alone their bosses and colleagues. But you would be surprised at how many people have been there themselves: either a divorce, a bitter break-up or battles over children. Most businesses will take this information on board and help you cope with the situation.

Divorce is akin to bereavement, so expect to go through all the stages before coming to accept the loss. You will feel shocked and you will experience disbelief and anger, alongside a range of other intense and hostile emotions including for some, overwhelming feelings of guilt and for others, of failure. I usually advise clients to write off a year. Tell yourself it is going to be a tough spell: if you hope for the best but expect the worst, at least you are prepared for whatever is to come.

You can read the full article on the Guardian here.

Image credit: Giant Ginkgo.

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Comments(2)

  1. Andrew says:

    The real b*gger is when both parties work for the same employer and therefore have to remain in contact during working hours. It’s right to keep them apart if you can, but the smaller the workplace the harder that is – and an employer has the right to insist that they remain professional and cope and keep their disagreements away from work. Quite apart from anything else your colleagues don’t want to hear about your divorce even if they don’t know the other party – and certainly not if they do.

  2. Andrew says:

    I once had a colleague who felt (perhaps rightly) that he had been hard done by in the divorce court and would bend anyone’s ear about it who would listen to him.

    The last straw came when he was seated at a team dinner next to a trainee and made her hear the whole story – and whereas I could and occasionally did say “Enough, [name], change the subject please” she really couldn’t. Eventually he went to the loo and when he got back he found that I had moved into his seat – and the next morning I gave him a shellacking about it. I don’t think he bored anybody else about his divorce after that!

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