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Unemployment While Negotiating an Agreement

March 1, 2017  | 

{3:48 minutes to read} Unfortunately, people who are getting divorced are not exempt from downsizing, market fluctuations, facility closings, etc. which can lead to a period of unemployment. How can divorcing couples factor in this development as they work through separating their households and assets? How do they cope with this monumental change in their lives, on top of this monumental change in their lifestyle?

If one of you is unemployed, it may not be entirely within your power to resolve the situation. If the unemployment has been for an extended period of time, or if you are older in a younger or no longer relevant industry, your concerns may be magnified.

Unemployment and the financial strain that comes with it likely played a role in the dynamics of your relationship. Those emotions, coupled with the practical need to discuss support when one person’s income is unknown, can make a resolution difficult in an adversarial situation.

Since mediation is a dialogue in which you both hear and understand the other, this is what can happen in mediation.

Address the Emotional Underpinnings

As with any personal crisis, there are emotional issues/responses that should be brought into the open and addressed.

The person who is unemployed can describe what it feels like to struggle looking for a job and be rejected. To take on a caretaking role that may be unfamiliar. To feel that he or she let the family down. To have either an unrealistically optimistic or pessimistic outlook on securing employment.

The other person can explain how it feels to be in the scary and unfamiliar position of being the sole breadwinner. To feel that he or she is responsible for the entire family and needs to juggle the anxiety of that burden with trying to not have the other person feel bad.

Work Together on a Resolution

I’ve seen that once these emotions are out there and understood, it’s then possible to discuss the practical aspects and create an agreement incorporating flexible future circumstances:

While they are limited, if clients are willing to work together, there are options to be discussed.

They can agree to use assets or incur debt for a certain period of time and then agree upon a payback plan once employment is secured.

If the other is able to solely take care of the finances individually, he or she can do that for a limited period of time.

If it’s a desire for only a certain type of employment, they can give the unemployed person a period of time to find employment that he or she prefers, and then if that is not achieved, that person would have to accept another type of employment.

Or they can even stay together until it is financially feasible to separate.

While unemployment can add a level of complexity to a divorce process, mediation will allow a couple to discuss the problem with sensitivity and arrive at a workable solution.

Clare Piro Attorney and Mediator

Attorney & Mediator
500 Mamaroneck Avenue | Suite 320
Harrison, NY 10528
Tel: 914.946.0848

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Comments
Maryann M
May 9, 2017 - 8:59 PM
It sounds so easy to be able to "discuss" the situation. There is so much emotion involved in not only divorce but losing a job that is part of your identity. It is losing everything at once...quite a shock. So, yes, it is the best solution to communicated calmly and wisely however this must be done with a qualified Mediator. The Mediator is experienced in handling the many emotions that are swirling in these circumstances. It's complicated but when cooler heads prevail there can be sound and fair solutions.
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