San Diego, Calif., November 3, 2017 – August is now the peak month for divorce filings according to recent research at the University of Washington, followed closely by the period after the Christmas holidays. In the months to come, you may find your business affected by the personal trauma of a valued employee facing divorce.
Disruptions in the workplace never happen at a “convenient” time. The cost can go well beyond absenteeism for a few days here and there for an affected employee to attend meetings with an attorney or court appearances. Worse, it can often drag on for weeks, months, even years.
If an individual gets involved in a contentious divorce being litigated in court, delays can make the situation seemingly grind on forever.
Additional, less obvious costs which impact your workplace include:
- The employee who is physically present at work, but unable to focus, resulting in reduced productivity or even mistakes
- The employee who constantly cries on his or her colleagues’ shoulders, including yours, wearing everyone out
- Employees wasting work time gossiping about a co-worker’s divorce
- An employee missing work or leaving early due to stress-related issues
- Child care problems due to shifting family relationships
In extreme cases, a depressed, distracted employee with impaired judgment can lead to mishaps, mistakes, and accidents. He or she may become so despondant, it leads to acting out through violence. Sometimes violence is directed at the employee by the soon to be ex spouse, threatening the safety of other employees. Not all workplaces are secure enough to keep a violent person away from the premises.
Since 70 percent of divorces in California take place without an attorney’s help, your employee may be overwhelmed with even the simplest details of the legal process. It can be challenging trying to accommodate them.
Imagine a formerly dedicated, productive employee suddenly falling apart. Even the most patient employer is ill equipped to provide the safety or emotional support the employee really needs. In a worst-case scenario, this can cost the employer a valuable contributor. It can cost the employee their career at the worst possible time.
Every employer has the right and the responsibility to be alarmed and take precautions if the relationship is edging toward violence.
As an employer, consider these options to help your valued employees navigate the difficult process of divorce:
- Understanding the emotional and financial trauma is the first step in assisting a individual through the divorce transition. Having the skills to acknowledge the hardship and refocus the employee so they are fully present during work hours requires training and education.
- Many employers recognize the benefits of offering needed support for employees experiencing trauma through Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). EAPs often include referrals to mental health professionals and divorce lawyers. Does your EAP provider have knowledge about various divorce options?
- Nonprofit groups or organizations which advocate for out-of-court options such as mediation or Collaborative Divorce can help couples navigate a divorce while avoiding litigation and confrontation. Often, an employee can meet with professionals outside of work hours including evenings and weekends. Many Collaborative Divorces are resolved within 12 months, and can cost far less than a comparable litigated courtroom case.
- Divorce Options Workshops: These workshops are held by many Collaborative Practice groups in the United States. A family law attorney, divorce financial professional and a divorce coach present information about the divorce process, and answer questions. Taking the mystery out of the divorce process reduces the anxiety and stress of an impending divorce. In California, the Collaborative Practice California group offers a full calendar of workshops throughout the state on its website here.
We all experience personal conflict in our lives. How it is addressed in the workplace can mean the difference between a productive employee and happy customers or a company in constant turmoil. Companies that support their employees during personal challenges like divorce will reap the benefits in terms of their bottom-line and their reputation.
Myra Chack Fleischer serves as Lead Counsel for Fleischer & Ravreby in Carlsbad, California with a focus on divorce, property, custody and support, settlement agreements, mediation, asset division and family law appeals. Read more Legally Speaking in Communities Digital News. Visit her website at frfamilylaw.com Follow Myra on Facebook at FleischerLawOffice, and on Twitter: @LawyerMyra.
Copyright © 2017 by Fleischer & Ravreby