The breakdown of a relationship is a challenging and stressful time, even when you and your partner are on relatively good terms.
There are a number of support services we recommend to help manage the strain which comes with relationship breakdown and the significant changes to you and your children’s circumstances. More often than not, people will first seek advice from friends and family, before then reaching out to a lawyer, counsellor or financial advisor. However, many people do not feel comfortable talking to their employer about their circumstances. In this blog, we explore how it can be important from a personal standpoint, as well as, family law and employment law perspectives.
If you are unable to agree upon the pending decisions regarding the children and financial arrangements arising out of your separation, either directly or through using another form of dispute resolution, court proceedings may be required. Court proceedings can take a significant amount of time and energy and it is likely to be beneficial to you, if your employer is made aware of the circumstances you are in. Although there are relatively limited legal obligations on your employer in these situations, many employers will recognise the benefit in supporting employees through difficult times. It can be important for them to understand when key dates are approaching and, where relevant, how the family legal advice you are being given may impact your job.
Your working arrangements will impact both the financial and the children’s arrangements and it is critical that you consider these at an early stage.
A divorce or separation is one of the most significant events you may go through in life and this in itself may cause you to re-evaluate your employment situation. Your solicitor will also want to explore your plans for the future with you, as these will be vital to the management of your case.
If you are making a proposal in respect of the arrangements for your children, whether this is part of a general child arrangements discussion or a relocation case, it is important that the proposal is achievable. It should be taken into account how the children will be looked after on a day-to-day basis, including before and after school and during holidays. If you have historically worked full time and relied on the other parent for more of the childcare, now may be the time to consider adapting your working pattern and discussing this with your employer. If you are asserting that you will be available for school pick up and drop offs on certain days, that you will be home by a certain time to relieve the nanny, or that you will be available for half of the school holidays, you ideally need to show the court that you can or are already doing this. This may require support and written confirmation from your employer.
While children and financial arrangements are considered separately by the court, they are linked. In making proposals about your children, you may need to reduce your working hours temporarily or on a permanent basis. This can have a direct impact on your earning capacity now and in the future, which is one of the court’s considerations when assessing which financial orders should be made. Your employer’s willingness to accommodate flexible working arrangements will be relevant to the applications before the court and you may want to approach your employer early on for written confirmation.
From an employment perspective, you may consider options such as:
- Flexible Working Request
The starting point is to understand your employer’s flexible working policy. Legally, an employee can request flexible working once they have been employed at least 26 weeks and only one request can be made in any 12-month period. In practice, some employers operate less restrictive, voluntary schemes. If your manager is supportive, it may be helpful to discuss your plans informally first, in order to adjust your proposal as necessary before making a formal written request.
- Parental Leave
Parental leave can be useful to cover time off to look after your child(ren), for example during school holidays. Although it is unpaid, you are entitled to 18 weeks’ parental leave per child up to the child’s 18th birthday if you have been with your employer at least a year. Your employer cannot refuse to let you go on parental leave, but they can postpone your leave for up to six months in certain circumstances.
Our employment team at Detoffol and Gittleman Law Firm, New York provides valuable assistance during the financial disclosure process in reviewing employment contracts and deciphering remuneration packages which may include contractual and discretionary elements.