Thursday, February 16, 2012

Finding a Job in the Midst of a Divorce (Preparation for Job Re-Entry)

For many people, getting divorced coincides with a sudden re-entry into the job market. There are a number of legitimate reasons why one party to a marriage has been out of work for a while. In long-term marriages, the period of unemployment is often many years. It may be because of staying home with the kids, moving with a spouse whose job transferred him or her or getting laid off. Sometimes, it's a matter of changing interests -- an old career is no longer attractive. For these and other reasons, it is fairly common for one spouse in a long-term marriage to suddenly have to shift gears and start or re-start a career to be self-supporting.

The resulting job search is a common feature, especially in Collaborative divorces. While I can't give you a perfect answer to the question of how to find a job, I can help you get started in discovering the answer for yourself. Fortunately, in a Collaborative divorce, you are more likely to get cooperation from a spouse and you won't be facing the time and scheduling pressures normally associated with litigation. If education is needed, that can usually be provided for.

Here are some suggestions for getting started. These were inspired by a recent post in a blog called "Attorney at Work". It's a (very good!) blog for lawyers, and the post is about lawyers, but the approach is sound and useful for someone transitioning through a divorce and new job search.

No Idea?
If you have no idea what kind of work you want to do, you should begin researching how to identify your career preferences, interests and abilities. You should also look for opportunities, such as fields that are currently hiring in your locale (or wherever you want to live). Consider whether you want to return to a prior career or try something completely new. You can do some reading and try to figure things out yourself, or you can meet with a professional who can help you in your search. To find someone to help, look on line and ask others for recommendations for counselors.

Some Ideas.
When you have some ideas about what kind of work you want to do, you should explore the possibilities. Investigate with an open mind! Here are some steps you can follow:
  • Think. If you have an idea of what you might want to do for a living, you can start to prepare for a job search by thinking through your options. Do you want to work full-time, part-time or flex-time? Do you want to work from home or go in to an office or other job site? Do you want to stay in the same city or metro area or state? What pay level would you start at, in a perfect world? Think about such details so you can start to define what job or jobs you would consider.
  • Talk. Visit with people in the field you are interested in. It's hard for anyone to find a job, so don't feel bad about talking with friends and acquaintances about your job project. Ask for help! Put the word out that you are looking. You never know what will show up.
  • Train. Having been out of work for a while, you will need new training and updated skills. You will become more marketable if you broaden your knowledge about your chosen field. Get advice. Find out what's needed and what others are doing. Find successful people in the field and ask for their help.

I will do a follow-up post to this about what to do next. Be patient. It's extremely unlikely that you will find a great job quickly. Think it through and prepare before you really get started. It's the old "Look before you leap" approach. That helps, even in a job search.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Why You Might Want Help in Negotiations

"Do it yourself" is a time-honored tradition for many things. Home improvements or repairs come to mind -- a good idea for a handyman, but not such a good idea for others, like me, without the talent and experience to know what to do or how to do it for projects above the basic level. On the other hand, there are lots of books and videos about how to do things without hiring expert help.

The "do it yourself" spirit has invaded the legal field, encouraged by forms, videos, web sites, blogs, e books and other books. There are also some non-lawyer services that provide help. Many people are willing to take on their own legal matters and it works out well for some of them. For others, there can be significant problems. How do you decide whether to step up and negotiate your own case? Here are some considerations.

1. Do you have the full information? Do you know what you need to know and how to get it? Most people don't, and it can be difficult sometimes, even for experienced lawyers. If you have all the needed information, you may not need help. If you are unprepared on the information, your result will suffer.

2. Is there equal information for both sides? Often, one party in a marriage tends to monopolize the information on all the financial issues or the children's matters. The other party can negotiate effectively only if he or she gets access to all the information.

3. Is there equal bargaining ability? Does one party have more experience or ability in bargaining? Sometimes one party does negotiations at work or has received special training in negotiations and that may give that party an unfair advantage. (It could be you or your spouse!)

4. Is there a power imbalance? If one party always seems to dominate the other, the submissive party is not going to do well in negotiations. Even with a mediator or some other facilitator, one spouse can easily intimidate the other prior to the negotiation sessions.

5. Is there equal motivation for both parties? If one spouse is more motivated than the other, the unmotivated one may get run over.

6. Has there been adequate preparation? One party may be pushing strongly to wrap everything up quickly, while the other may not be ready for a long time. The motivated one may have been preparing for a long time, emotionally and otherwise, and the other spouse may need more time to prepare. Without enough prep time, the negotiations are not going to go well.

7. Is there trust between the parties? There are different levels of trust, but a complete absence of trust and goodwill may doom any negotiations.

Bottom Line: If there are imbalances in the relation of the parties, the dominant one will very likely have a significant advantage in negotiations if the parties try to reach an agreement without using attorneys. Don't allow your spouse to pressure you into agreeing to negotiate if any of the problems above are present. Instead, talk to a lawyer and get some professional help. Attorneys have several methods
, including Collaborative Law, available to resolve conflicts.

Other posts have explained the benefits of Collaborative Law. Look into it before deciding to negotiate for yourself. Collaborative Law addresses these issues by cooperatively gathering, sharing and analyzing information. The process involves professionals as neutrals who work for both parties and the attorneys. Any imbalances are leveled out by the professionals so that each party can work to achieve their goals and meet their needs.

You may be making your most important financial, family and legal decisions, and it's not a time to be cheap. Your future is on the line!