When divorce occurs, what was enough to retire on, when you both lived in the same house, can become barely enough to live comfortably, or worse. Many of my mediation cases involve a stay-at-home parent, usually moms.
It takes a while to emotionally come to terms that your lifestyle will change during and after your divorce. Going back to work is a change that is scary and hard to accept, particularly if you have not worked in a really long time!
There is loss of prestige, loss of your social life and your way of living. Fearing rejection from potential employers and lacking confidence in your modern work skills is normal. You may feel that a “deal” was made that you would not have to work, and you feel that deal should be kept.
The reality is that most women who were stay-at-home moms do not recover their standard of living after divorce. Sadly, many end up living close to poverty level upon retirement. Going back to work is a reality you need to face sooner rather than later.
Existing assets will be depleted if you remain unemployed or underemployed. Making smart divorce decisions like going back to work will provide you a better chance at a secure retirement.
Some attorneys may advise you to not return to work during the divorce. I have seen this backfire. Women have wasted years where they could have been building job skills and increasing their income only to find themselves with spousal support that is far lower than expected.
If your attorney is encouraging you to not work during the divorce, I strongly encourage you to have a direct discussion with them about the average support they have seen granted. Keep in mind every judge, even in the same city, has a different idea about support and their rulings can be inconsistent.
Women judges have often raised kids and worked full time during their marriages and may not be sympathetic to your cause.
In mediation, the working spouse usually tells me that they would find it unfair to have their lifestyle severely decline to support an ex-spouse who wants to continue to stay at home. They also do not feel it’s fair that they must postpone their retirement to support a spouse who does not want to get a job.
The working spouse envisions themselves working until they are 70 or beyond. For these reasons, during mediation the working spouse asks that some level of job income be “imputed” upon the non-working spouse.
Technology has changed a lot since you have been out of the workforce, but that knowledge can be learned in a short period of time. There are online courses on YouTube, Thinkific and LinkedIn Learning where you can learn the skills you need for little or no money.
You can get a jump start by learning those skills while you are anticipating divorce but are still at home. Getting formal education may not be financially smart or necessary because it postpones the inevitable and may not necessarily result in enough additional income to be financially justified. Going back to school is sometimes just a coping mechanism because working is much scarier than going to school.
Going back to work can help build your self-esteem and after divorce, everyone needs that boost! Being a stay-at-home parent can be thankless!! Your kids don’t often thank you for a job well done and there is no paycheck.
Being told by your boss that you are doing a great job and getting a raise can be a huge boost for your self-confidence and self-esteem. Women who rise to the challenge – even if they have a job that pays a fraction of their ex-husband’s income – seem to be much happier and well-adjusted post-divorce.
Going back to work can improve your social life. At work you will have new activities and challenges to think about. You will be meeting new women and men and starting new friendships. Maybe you will even find romance in the workplace!
Did you get less spousal support than you thought, and did you go back to work? Do you regret not starting a job sooner? Have you found your work fun and has your social life changed?
Tags Divorce After 60