What you should consider before changing jobs during divorce

| Jun 11, 2021 | Family Law

Divorce is one of the most emotionally and financially impactful life events a person can have. Typically, they don’t choose to pair it with another significant change like getting a different job or pursuing a new career. 

However, some people do. Sometimes a life-changing event like divorce gets people thinking about what they really want. If you’ve been in a job you can barely tolerate because you’re afraid of the unknown, just as you’ve stayed in a marriage for the same reason, one move could inspire another.

Other people change jobs or careers during divorce for more practical reasons. If you’re now going to be a single parent for half the week, you may not be able to keep the schedule or workload you currently have. If you’ll need to earn more money to provide for your children and yourself after divorce, you need a job that pays better than the one you have.

Be prepared for complications to your divorce

These are all solid reasons to change jobs. However, keep in mind that getting a new job can complicate your divorce.

If you take a lower-paying job to be more available for your children, your spouse and the court could think you’re trying to lower your child and/or spousal support obligations – particularly if your spouse already has some trust issues where you’re concerned. A judge could require you to pay the support you’d have been required to pay if you hadn’t changed occupations.

A job change – particularly if it involves leaving your current employer – can also lengthen the divorce process. You’ll need to provide updated information about your new income as well as anything you’re entitled to as you leave your current employer. For example:

  • Do you have stock options that payout when you leave?
  • Did you get a “golden parachute” because you took advantage of incentives offered for some employees to retire?
  • Do you have a contract that prevents you from taking a job in the same profession for a specific period?

Typically, your best bet is to be honest and transparent – with your spouse and the court. Don’t attempt to hide anything. Explain your reasoning. If you’re doing what you believe is best for your children, even if it means a little less money coming in, you’ll likely get less scrutiny and pushback. However, consider all of this before you make any big moves.