This was a question asked of me recently by a client, and one that I have been asked many times over the 23 years of my practice. Many divorce lawyers will specifically advise their clients not to go to work, or take a job, for fear that it may diminish and/or eliminate their clients right to receive maintenance. I, however, generally do not take that position, but rather ask: are you comfortable being 100% reliant on your spouse’s income for the rest of your life? What happens if your ex-spouse loses his or her job, or otherwise becomes unable to work and generate an income, do you have sufficient assets to sustain yourself for the rest of your life?
In many circumstances, one spouse going back to work after being out of the workforce for a very long time is not a realistic option, but in situations where the option exists, I believe it is in anyone’s best interest to try to be as self-sufficient as possible and not reliant on an ex-spouse, to the extent possible. In those situations where meaningful employment is not possible due to the length of marriage, the length the individual has been out of the workforce, the age of individual, the health of the individual, or for another reason, that is where I work with my clients in developing an aggressive litigation strategy to secure appropriate maintenance, formerly known as alimony.
Don’t get me wrong, I do not advocate getting any job just to get a job, but where a positive opportunity presents itself, not only from a financial standpoint, but also from the standpoint of confidence and empowerment, as well, I generally recommend to clients they consider that type of option.
The real point of this is that anyone going through the process of divorce should consider as many options as are available to that individual, and not be misguided by an attorney’s singular strategy without exploring all of the options available. There is no template for every divorce and every family’s facts, circumstances and issues are different from the next. Think big picture!