Any significant life event (positive or negative) is likely going to affect your job performance. Even if it doesn’t require you to take time off, it will probably take your focus off your work.
Certainly, divorce is a significant life event. It’s generally believed that a person’s work will suffer as they go through a divorce. That can certainly be the case – especially in a high-conflict divorce or if the separation and divorce involve a multitude of changes like having to move.
University of Minnesota studies reflect differing experiences
Researchers at the University of Minnesota conducted two studies on the effects of divorce on work. Their findings in one study, based on surveys, showed that while the effects are negative for some people, they are positive for others. Specifically, almost 44% of those surveyed said their divorce negatively affected their work, while slightly less (almost 39%) said their divorce had a positive effect on their job.
One of the professors leading the studies explained, “Some shared how they felt more distracted at work or even needed to take a break to cry. Others shared that their divorce removed a large stress burden from their lives and they had more energy to tackle career goals.” Transitioning to a newly single life can also incentivize some people to focus more on their careers since they won’t have that second income to rely on.
Whether things are better or worse after a couple separates makes a difference
The other study, which involved surveys of people over a year, also showed different effects of divorce on work performance based in part on the circumstances of the break-up. For example, among those who reported negative work impacts were people who had considered their marriage to be good as well as those who reported being less financially stable after their divorce. Interestingly, divorcing parents reported fewer negative effects on their work than those who didn’t have children.
The good news is that overall, people who reported declines in their job performance, physical health and emotional well-being said these improved over the year following their divorce. Other factors may be at play also – such as whether managers allow the additional time off or flexible schedule necessary during the divorce. Having experienced legal guidance can also help you better work toward the agreements you’re seeking and feel more confident that your future will be secure.