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Should You Get A New Job When Facing Divorce?

Mom holds baby

When splitting up a household, it’s typical to see income dropping. But should you get a new job to pick up the slack? This is a great question that needs a good calculator, and consideration of all the factors. Let’s look at a typical situation for a stay-at-home mom who finds herself in the middle of divorce with no immediate way to support herself and her child.

Our stay-at-home finds that she needs to get a job in order to pay bills and support herself after her separation from her husband. And she’ll have to decide quickly what to do. But will taking a job mean her chances of receiving spousal maintenance will be diminished?

Assess the Big Picture

This is a really difficult question but let’s look at the particulars. In order to answer it, she must first determine her objectives and whether the offer of employment achieves the objectives. For some individuals, they may not need to find a job immediately, either because they have substantial assets, their spouse is offering support or friends and family are helping out.

For women or men who have been out of the workforce and are now facing divorce, they will probably need to find some way to become self sufficient. That doesn’t mean that you should take any job you can get.

We had a client who had been home taking care of her young children throughout the marriage. Her husband filed for divorce and was not offering any support. We were fairly confident that she would be awarded spousal maintenance, but due to the availability of funds, she would eventually need to find supplementary sources of income. She was offered a position as a teacher in a pre-school facility. She could take her youngest child with her. It seemed like a great option.

What are the Logistics?

Then we looked at the numbers and logistics. The job paid $10/hour for a full time position. Her baby could not be in the same room she taught in. The school/daycare’s offer of a 50% reduction in tuition meant that she would only have to pay $700 per month for full time care for the baby, which sounded good. On the downside, the school was at least 40 minutes from her house. The Father had scheduled parenting time every evening. She was ready to take the job.

Let’s look at this closely. $10/hour * 40 hours per week = $1733 per month. Take out the $700 for child care and her net income before taxes would be $1033. Then if you take out 25% for taxes, the take home is $775/month. $775/160 hours per month means our client was looking at working for $4.80 per hour to take care of other people’s children and be separated from her own. Additionally, she would be getting up each day by six, spending hours in the car, and lose all day with her son. His Father would have him each evening so she would end up putting him to bed at night.

When does NOT WORKING make sense?

While turning down employment is difficult, in this client’s situation this job was not a good fit. It simply didn’t achieve her objectives of bringing in enough income to sustain her. Plus, she wanted to secure an award of temporary spousal maintenance and find a way to make money while taking care of her son. This offer of employment didn’t help either cause.

Instead, our client was better off searching for a teaching position with an elementary school in a position that paid more, and offered better hours. She would also have been served in a nanny position or by offering in home day care. That way she could both supplement her income and also spend time with her child.

These are not easy decisions and we advise you consult with your attorney prior to making a decision about whether to accept a new position in a pending divorce.

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