Divorce is a life event that often causes more disruption in your day-to-day life than any other relationship event…especially if you’re facing divorce at midlife and have been a stay-at-home mom, and have no job. If you have never had to fully support yourself, the terrifying question of “How am I going to survive a divorce with no job?” starts taking over your sleepless nights and exhausting days.
With divorce in the picture in your life, you immediately begin worrying about how to support yourself after divorce…and how to provide for the kids. You ask yourself, “Am I going to turn into a bag lady sleeping in my car or in my parent’s basement?” Divorcing your husband with no job sometimes feels like a leap off of a tall building with no safety net below!
If your spouse is physically abusive, leaving the marriage is not a choice but a safety issue for you and your children. At other times, separation might give you a little more leeway as far as when you actually leave your marriage. But regardless of the details of your divorce, you are faced with a totally different future than you expected! And it usually means getting a job after divorce whether you had one before or not.
In midlife, lots of changes are happening all at once:
- Your body is changing
- Your children are getting older and leaving home
- Your parents are needing you more
- You may be already thinking about retirement
Then suddenly your husband wants a divorce now, and you have no job!
The trouble is, if your divorce is unexpected and sudden, you may be struggling to physically survive. You literally have to force yourself to eat and drink healthy liquids. Sleep is elusive. You may be depressed and having trouble getting out of bed every day and doing the basic survival tasks you need to do to face each day.
More and more often, especially in midlife, marriages are ending with one spouse being totally “blindsided” by their spouse’s desire to leave the marriage. One night after dinner he says, “We need to talk.” Or you find a romantic card in the front pocket of his car and you say, “We need to talk.” And the next thing you know, you’re being served divorce papers!
Here are four basic ways you have to get yourself ready to even start looking for a job after divorce, especially if it is unexpected and fresh:
- Start a disciplined, daily exercise program
Moving our body creates energy and gives us a fresh, constantly-improving perspective. Make yourself do it — even 15 or 20 minutes a day helps. People who exercise daily are generally more positive and more optimistic about the future. That shows up in your interactions with potential employers.
- Get healthy emotionally
Face your losses realistically. Get help from a counselor, a spiritual advisor or a friend who will give you honest, productive advice. Find a support group that helps your move forward like the Midlife Divorce Recovery MasterPlan. Find small things that bring you joy. Be aware of all the blessings in your life. Grieve as you must. Then make a deliberate choice to move on after divorce, including finding a new job. Look at this challenge as an opportunity for personal growth.
- Look your best
Hire an image consultant for an hour if you can. Or ask a personal shopper at a clothing store to give you advice. Choose colors and textures that make you feel confident. Spend a little extra time with your makeup and hair. Polish your shoes. Do whatever you can to feel good about how you look. Looking better and feeling better create a cycle of getting better, so make the effort and take the time to look your best.
- Speak and walk confidently
SMILE…even if you don’t feel like it! A genuine smile makes others more responsive to us. Research shows that a smile, whether fake or real, makes positive things happen in our brain. Find reasons to smile. Put your shoulders back, head up, and stride! Look forward, not down. Speak clearly and precisely so you can’t be misunderstood. Give a warm, confident handshake. Express a quiet determination to succeed. Feelings often follow actions!
Resources To Help Divorced People Find Jobs
Once you are at least getting through the days and night in one piece, you have to figure out a strategy to find a job after your divorce. Below are a few suggestions. Often there are scholarships for single moms or single women just starting out in the workplace no matter how old. Women’s Business organizations usually have a list of available jobs in the community for all levels of experience.
Another source for job searches for people who are out of work are Job Clubs at churches or educational institutions. Also, word of mouth is often the best way to make a connection for a job. Contact people in the workforce to let them know you are looking for a job.
Spend some time checking out and researching new jobs that might be of interest to you. If they are available, sign up for online or virtual classes. Community Colleges and Universities are offering online classes since the pandemic is causing many in person classes to be cancelled for the time being. Take advantage of those and be sure to ask about financial aid.
Update Your Resume
Find some digital resources that instruct you about different ways to update your resume. If possible, set up a time with a Career Coach who should be able to help you include the information that employers are currently looking for. The section of the Midlife Divorce Recovery MasterPlan that deals with getting a job includes an interview with an expert who helps people get back into the workforce. The interview is excellent and gives all kinds of helpful tips to help you find a job after divorce.
Create A LinkedIn Profile
Experiment with LinkedIn if you haven’t already. Set up your online resume. LinkedIn is a place where many employers go to look for qualified candidates for jobs they need filled. Don’t forget to include experience that you have gained by doing volunteer work, personal areas of interest and expertise that you have gained from doing unpaid work in the community including for your children’s schools or for religious organizations.
Should I Get A Job During My Divorce?
Make sure you talk to your attorney about whether getting a new job during a divorce is a good idea or not. In some cases, even though a woman has been a stay at home mom, her income is computed on how much she should be able to make considering her level of experience and education. Sometimes a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst is the best to consult about that. But you still need to check with your attorney to make sure what is best for your overall spousal support computations.
How A Job Impacts Spousal Support
If you have been a stay at home mom while your children needed care and supervision, you may be entitled to more support if you have not had a job. In many states, the woman’s income is compared with the husband’s income, and the numbers are put into a formula to determine what the spousal support should be. So even though you may have to get a job, it might be best to hold off on that while the divorce is in progress.
I Didn’t Have A Job Before
Some women, with the blessing of their husband, decide to stay home especially after children come along. That happened with me. We had three children under five for a while, and it would have taken almost all of my paycheck to pay for childcare. I worked at several different jobs until our first child was born and then did freelance work from home. I was also able to do that after our divorce. Even though your ex-husband is making much more than you are … try to keep up your job skills in some way!
I Need A Different Job Now
Sometimes, women have been employed, but need to find a job with a better salary after divorce if they are going to have to support themselves with little help from their ex. Also, in some cases, husbands completely abandon their families with no forwarding information or desire to do the right thing and help care for their children.
I have seen women be incredibly creative and resourceful in finding work to take care of themselves and their children. One woman with one child in preschool and one at home, became a care-giver to a woman with Multiple Sclerosis. The family thought it would be good for everyone to have the child there, too.
Another RADiCAL woman started out by volunteering in the hospital, rocking “preemie” babies. That led to a full time job and then they moved her up again to something even better.
Another woman started out volunteering to teach reading to inmates in the women’s prison close by where she lived. She did so well that they offered to send her to school part time. She eventually got a full time job with benefits in the Correctional facility. That same woman also started house-sitting for wealthy people in her area and kept a roof over her head without paying rent or a mortgage. She also did catering jobs on the side.
The most important thing is healing from your divorce as you move along the path to getting a job. A job after divorce can actually help you move forward in lots of ways. But remember, check with your attorney, first. Get help getting your confidence back. A new job can be the next step to a fulfilling, fun, productive new life after divorce!