Minimizing the Negative Impact of Divorce in the Workplace

Mar 31, 2020 | Kathleen M. Newman

As one of the most stressful experiences, divorce undermines your well-being in every aspect of your life, including your role at work. This can result in a loss of productivity, absenteeism and stress-related illnesses.  The dynamics of a divorce – the mental distractions, added financial costs and conflicting court appearances and mediations – can put career advancement or even your current job at risk. Unprofessional reactions can quickly change a star employee to the subject of probation, demotion, or even termination.  One study found that 9 percent of employees had to leave their jobs because of a divorce or separation or knew a co-worker who had done so.

What are some tips for minimizing the fall-out of a divorce in the workplace?

1. Consider disclosing your divorce to your direct supervisor and explaining that you may need some flexibility in scheduling, reallocation of workload and even perhaps, the need to work remotely on occasion. However, do not share the details of the divorce or reasons for the failed marriage. 

2. Only discuss your divorce with your closest work friends and do so in a location other than your office or work site to minimize office gossip.

3. Keep divorce related documents and communications outside of the office.   Use a personal email address for divorce communications rather than your work email address.

4. Find a good therapist or support group and stick with it.

5. In a particularly contentious divorce, you may consider obtaining an agreement or a court order prohibiting communications or physical visits by the other spouse at your workplace if the circumstances warrant. 

6. Hire a lawyer who will try to schedule meetings and hearings outside of normal work hours to the extent possible.   

Juggling the demands of a career in the midst of a divorce is a major challenge.   It is important you have the right lawyer on your side.


“Yes, You Can Change Your Career During Your Divorce,” Forbes (March
25, 2019).“Effects Of Divorce On Work Performance,” Andrew L. Yarrow (2019).
“Onto Death as We Part: The Impact of Divorce on Employee Wellness,” Corporate Wellness (2019).
“Divorce and the Unproductive Employee,” HR Daily Advisor (May 11, 2016).