In the fourth and last panel of our Get Divorce Savvy series, hosts Stacy Francis and Lisa Zeiderman welcomed panelists Rona Wexler M.A., ABVW/D, President, TheEmployabilityExpert.com, Emma Johnson, author, financial journalist, Founder of WealthySingleMommy.com, Samantha Gregory, author, speaker and Founder of RichSingleMomma.com, and Andrea Labis LSCW-R, Clinical Social Worker & Therapist. This dream team of experts and successful single moms shared their views on how divorced women can leverage their talents to further their careers and thrive on one income. Read below the key takeaways and watch the recording to hear incredibly savvy and encouraging advice for divorced women who are starting to write their next chapter. Learn from these divorce experts how to move forward and succeed financially from a divorce.
Understanding Employability and Imputation of Income
Rona Wexler, a vocational analyst and employability evaluator, helps people get back to work in a post-life changing event like divorce, by assessing their ability to learn and retrain. She is often hired in divorce mediations, to help estimate earning capacity for the purposes of determining child and spousal support.
As she explains, employability is comprised of three elements:
- Going over a person’s education, training, work experience. What skills they have and how much they earn.
- Evaluating whether additional education and training would help that person get a better job.
- Looking at the labor market to see what are the available opportunities that would match this person’s skills and training.
From that analysis, income is imputed, meaning a reasonable income expectation is calculated. Imputation of income is helpful to make financial decisions, whether going back to work or not.
In cases of women who have been out of the workforce for many years, Rona always suggests they reach out to career professionals to help them see how to get back into the workforce before the divorce is over or their kids are older.
According to Lisa Zeiderman, imputation of income is always likely, even if the divorcing mom doesn’t work, especially if she has children to support. The court is likely to impute income if there are young children who still need to be supported. People who retire might also have income imputed based on investments or retirement income.
Thriving Professionally as a Single Mom
Samantha Gregory and Emma Johnson are two incredibly inspiring women who have built a thriving career post-divorce. For Samantha, being a single mom means she gets to make decisions for herself and her children without toxic behavior from a partner. After her divorce, she went back to school to add new skills to her toolbox, and since then she has been successfully juggling her career path and caring for her children, and has done so with a lot of help from family and friends. Emma has created an amazing community for women going through divorce, and recently pivoted her blog into activism on equally shared parenting after divorce. For her, moving forward and adjusting to living on one income happened out of necessity.
Samantha and Emma’s Tips for Relaunching Your Career:
- Ask yourself what resources you already have. What did you do before having kids? Focus on what you can do.
- Surround yourself with the right people. Network and connect with career and work-focused people.
- Equal parenting time will allow you to have time to build a meaningful life.
- Expecting yourself to do it all will make you feel overwhelmed. Set boundaries, make time for yourself and manage your expectations.
- Take advantage of free training and resources on jobs. Take free classes, learn new trends, and add all of that to your resume (always keep it updated!)
- Look for a position that fits your lifestyle. Do you need a more flexible schedule? Will a virtual/work-from-home position fit your needs better?
- Get prepared. Look up interview questions; look up your favorite companies and connect with people who work there.
- Build up your confidence. Talk to people you trust, practice interviewing.
- Put out positive energy out there and believe that if it’s right for you, it will work out in the end.
Supporting the Post-divorce Emotional Journey
Andrea Labis LSCW-R, is a Clinical Social Worker & Therapist that supports divorcing patients helping them navigate the emotional aspects of the process, from how to talk in court to how to coparent in a healthy way. As she shares on the panel, taking the high road during divorce and disclosing everything with your lawyer and mental health professional are key pieces of advice she always offers her divorcing patients.
When it comes to relaunching a career post divorce, Andrea is there to support and guide her patients to overcome the fears and challenges of going back to work. Below are some of the key pieces of advice she shares so that women are not “one man away from welfare”:
- Even women who were a stay-at-home mom for years are competent to generate income.
- During divorce, divorcing moms have three full-time jobs: being a parent, being a litigant, and finding what will be your income source so that you are not one ex-spouse away from poverty.
- Take into account all the skills you developed while you weren’t working.
- Going back into the workforce may be scary, but not earning your own money is a lot scarier.
The conversation with Andrea also touches on co-parenting and the importance of having both parents involved in raising children. Fostering the relationship with the other parent, which means supporting, recognizing and being positive about the other parent, making sure they are part of your children’s lives, is not only important for the kids but also in court.
The Pitfalls of Reentering the Workforce
Towards the end of the panel, the experts shared what they think are the biggest pitfalls for women as they rebuild their career after divorce, and what they can do to avoid them.
- Holding themselves back for fear of not being a full-time parent. For Emma, many women hold themselves back from relaunching their career because they think children need them available 100% of the time. However, being a working mom outside of the home may be even beneficial for kids. According to a Harvard study, in families where the mother worked full-time outside the home for pay, the daughters did better academically and professionally, and the sons did just as well as their stay-at-home counterparts, but helped more at home, and were equally as happy as the sons of stay at home moms. And a meta study from the University of Maryland shows that after the age of 2, children don’t benefit more from having a parent at home full-time.
- Thinking they have to do it all. For Rona, the pressure caused by the need to do it all can be avoided by giving children a bigger role in helping at home, and letting things fall off the plate without feeling guilty.
- Being afraid of getting back out there. Even these days, Andrea says, for most of her patients the biggest portion of the parenting load falls on the mother, which makes it even scarier for women to reenter the workforce. Andrea always tries to open her patients’ eyes to see that if they don’t have their own resources, their kids are the ones who will have to take care of them in the future.
- Discounting the skills they gained while at home. Samantha points out many women don’t take into account everything they’ve learned while they were household managers and mothers. This lack of self-esteem and courage can be paralyzing. Rebuilding that confidence is essential for getting back out there and seeing the possibility of a sustainable life.
- Assuming they’d earn less than the cost of childcare. Lisa explains that’s a misconception; the longer a woman stays out of the workforce, the harder it is to get back in. While it may be true that many women may be paying more in child care than what they make for the first year or two, staying in the workforce, going up the ladder and getting experience will allow you to increase their earning power substantially in the following years.
- Get Divorce Savvy – Panel 1 Takeaways: Creating the Right Checklist
- Get Divorce Savvy – Panel 2 Takeaways: What is Your Statement of Net Worth?
- Get Divorce Savvy – Panel 3 Takeaways: Setting Yourself Up With the Right Tools & Professionals
As you embark on your divorce journey you need to have a financial roadmap so you can support yourself financially in your next chapter. If you need guidance or have any financial questions, contact the Savvy Ladies Free Financial Helpline today and get free mentoring from a financial advisor.