Opinion: On employers’ involvement in workers’ divorces

A former state Supreme Court justice who actively pushes for divorce court reform says that one essential party is not sufficiently involved and contributing enough to help unwind marriages that are marked by undue stress: the employer.

One might immediately think that an employer’s involvement in a worker’s marriage dissolution — including knowledge of details concerning property division, child custody and other matters — would in almost any case be deemed flatly intrusive and spell unwanted interference.

Former Colorado judge Rebecca Love Kourlis thinks otherwise. Kourlis, who is currently the executive director of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, says that more employers’ closer scrutiny of and assistance to their divorcing employees is precisely what is needed across the country.

After all, she notes, a divorcing employee with a number of stressful matters on his or her mind is often preoccupied with those issues at work. Kourlis says that such workers “make more mistakes; work more slowly; and if they are feeling angry, project that anger on to colleagues and customers.”

Purposeful and well-meaning employer involvement can help alleviate some of those stresses and results. Engagement is not punitive; rather, it should recognize and respond to the issues centered on morale and job productivity.

Kourlis says that employers should go beyond simple employee assistance programs that include some level of counseling. Rather, they should include focused help that cuts to the chase on the matters that are affecting a divorcing worker on the job, whether those relate to finances, dispute resolution, parenting responsibilities, child custody and more.

A strong program in this area is only logical, says Kourlis, benefiting both the employer and the worker. A business that can promote ways to resolve divorce-related problems “such that they cost less money, take less time, and are less adversarial and inflamed” is far more than just a good idea. Kourlis says “it is just good business.”

Source: Huffington Post, “Your divorce, their business?” Vicki Larson, Nov. 1, 2012

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