Monday, August 15, 2011

Finding a Job Later in Life While Going Through a Divorce

Many people going through a divorce face the prospect of needing to get a job right away because they will be living on their own and will need the income to support themselves and maybe their children. For Baby Boomers and others later in life, it's a whole new world with a job market they have never experienced.

Finding a job can be daunting any time you are searching when you don't already have a job. The difficulty is heightened if you are suddenly on the market, especially when you haven't worked for a while. Not being able to plan ahead for a job search can make it hard to qualify for some jobs at the same time you experience the urgency of needing something right away. That can be compounded when you don't even know what kind of work you want to do.

These problems are intensified even more when the economy is very slowly leaving a recession, which means that a lot of other people are looking for jobs at the same time you are, when there aren't many jobs available. If you also happen to be going through a divorce, the pressure can seem overwhelming.

Getting Started -- Analyzing Yourself
Since you need to know what to apply for, you may want to consult with a counselor, an employment adviser or an employment agency for guidance in determining a career target. It's important to figure out, if you don't already know, what kinds of careers would possibly work for you. There are some aptitude tests to help you focus on the careers that match your personality, interests and experience. Do some testing before you start searching, so you'll know what to aim for.

Once you decide the type of work you think you want to do, here are some additional steps that can help you find a job.

1. Freshen your resume. First, get a professional to look over what you have and help you come up with appropriate content and design. Resumes are very different from what was common 15 or 20 or 30 years ago. If you haven't been working outside the home, you need to be able to deal with that issue.

2. Do volunteer work. If you don't have recent paid work experience, you can do volunteer work that can improve your resume, especially if the volunteering was related to the field that you want to work in. Doing unpaid work is also a way to try out a field and decide if it is something that might interest you. For example, if you want to be a teacher, help out at a school. You can be an intern for different companies and get a feel for whether you would be comfortable in the industry or in that company.

3. Brush up your skills. You might have a college degree or previous work experience in a field, but if you haven't worked in the field for years, you probably need a refresher course and new skills. We all know how much things have changed throughout our lives. You should plan on getting training for your field, no matter how much experience you had before.

4. Put yourself out there. Plan on networking in person and through the social media. LinkedIn, Twitter and even Facebook can be platforms to tell the world that you are looking for a job and to connect with people who might be able to help you get a job. There are lots of networking groups around that focus on finding jobs. You might join one of those, if you are comfortable with it. At the very least, you need to tell people (in a positive way) that you are looking for a job and you should be able to tell them exactly what you want. You've got to keep talking with everyone about your quest -- you're marketing yourself, so plan on investing your time and energy in it.

5. Get a technology tune-up. Find out the latest technology and software being used in your target industry, and then take some quick classes to upgrade your skills. Having a good personality is usually no longer good enough to get a job. Pretty much everyone uses computers and other technology for almost every job. You need to be able to show your proficiency with current technology for your career.

When you discover that you need to get a job, especially if you are a little older and haven't worked in a while, you will have to work extra hard to find a good job. If you have any other suggestions to help others, please send in a comment with your ideas!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Who Do You Want Controlling the Outcome of Your Case?

One of the core elements of Collaborative Law is that we remove the case from the court system and let the parties create their own terms, rather than have a judge decide issues. People who haven't been through the court system sometimes don't appreciate that difference between litigation and Collaboration.

In Tarrant County, Texas, we have six family courts that have two judges each, a District Judge and an Associate Judge. The Associate Judge hears most preliminary matters and the District Judge is usually the one to hear any final trials. When the parties cannot agree, the Associate Judge usually ends up making decisions on temporary issues, including custody, child support, visitation, who stays in the house, how the bills get paid and how the money is allocated, among other things.

There was recently an extensive article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about one of our Associate Judges. The article should not be taken as a scientific or completely accurate study of Judge Beebe, and definitely shouldn't be generalized to describe all of our family court judges. In fact, we have 12 judges with 12 personalities that are very different. While the judges all work with the same Family Code (statute) that we use in Collaborative cases, there is a tremendous variation from court to court as to how our judges make decisions, how they run their courts and even what issues are important or not important to them.

The Star-Telegram article does give a glimpse into what life can be like in the court system. Our judges in Tarrant County have a variety of experience and each has their own way of reaching the "truth" or dealing with the essential issues. All the judges know that there are two sides to every story. They have a hard job trying to come up with decisions that protect the rights and interests or both parties and any children. Unfortunately, the judges have limited exposure to the case and limited time to deal with it. Sometimes the parties are happy with the judge's decision, but often one or both parties are very unhappy.

If you are about to get involved in a family law dispute, you have a choice to make. Do you want a judge deciding the outcome of your case, or do you and your spouse want to make the decisions yourselves with the aid of neutral professionals for communication issues, children's issues and financial decisions?

For some people, turning everything over to a judge is a relief. Other people like to maintain control over their future and make their own decisions with expert assistance. If you are facing family law issues, it's a good idea to consult with a Collaborative Law attorney, as well as a litigation attorney, before deciding what course you will follow.