When one spouse in a divorce has been unemployed for an extended period, it can often be a frightening situation for that particular spouse. It can also be frightening to the other spouse. This fear shared from opposite perspectives can lead to heightened conflict and tense communications. This conflict and challenged communications can impede the entire divorce process. However, it does not have to be this way.
What if in the divorce process, there was a way for someone to explore these fears from a deeper perspective? The spouse who has been unemployed for some time, perhaps because of child rearing responsibilities, is extremely anxious or downright scared about how they will ever be able to make it. The employed spouse is anxious and downright scared they will forever face having to support their non-working spouse. Both have legitimate fears and concerns. Let us look at some options that may help both at least minimize some of these fears.
In a collaborative divorce
, professionals, whether they are coaches, financial specialists, child specialists, or attorneys, have access to tremendous resources to help couples in this type of situation. Vocational assessments can help determine a person’s aptitude for specific job classifications and what the expected salary ranges are for beginning, mid-level, and more experienced levels. Sometimes additional training may be required to either add new skills or perhaps update skills from the past. Career coaches can help with packaging (marketing) a spouse for employment, resume creation, interviewing skills, and a game plan with target dates for employment.
This type of effort requires genuine commitment on the part of the spouse seeking employment and the spouse who is employed. The commitment comes in the form of the unemployed spouse diligently working with the vocational counselors and coaches to follow recommendations provided. Commitment from the employed spouse comes by supporting the spouse seeking employment both emotionally and financially. When this commitment is genuinely felt by both spouses, good things can happen. The unemployed spouse will be able to obtain employment at a more rapid pace, which in the end serves to boost their confidence and self-esteem. This can have a mushroom effect to fast track the non-working spouse to employment with higher earnings. If the employed spouse sees progress to help the non-working spouse with employment, their fears of having to fully support their non-working spouse forever can be significantly reduced. Sounds like a win-win to me.
The keys to all this happening is commitment, transparency, and genuineness from all involved including spouses and members of the divorce team
. Of course, if you do not have a divorce team and are stuck in a more traditional divorce process, the commitment, transparency, and genuineness more than likely does not exist at all.
This begs the question of which divorce process do you really want to pursue? A collaborative divorce provides an environment described above where you and your spouse make decisions together that are in your best interest. A more traditional or litigated divorce process is a process often forced upon you and then someone else makes decisions for you that affect your future. Stop and think before you choose. Choose your process wisely.
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