Reducing the impact of personal issues on business

Even more challenging than work-life balance, family discord unintentionally affects employment, says Kaitlyn D. Arthurs, Principal, Attorney and Mediator at McCarthy, Lebit, Crystal & Liffman.

Personal issues, such as divorce and custody disputes, may spill into the workplace and negatively impact daily operations. However, finding the right resources and support can prevent those issues from bleeding over. With the right tools, people entrenched in personal conflict can pivot to succeed in both their personal and professional lives.

Smart Business spoke with Arthurs about strategies to confront difficult family times and still preserve professional success.

How can successful professionals push through difficult family times?
Like a business plan, it is important to have strategy and support. Getting a good result requires the right people and plan.

Nowadays, time is more valuable than money. A family split requires much attention. Finding the right professional to manage the case and keep it on track will curtail wasted time.

When retaining an attorney, it is essential to find a good fit that is aligned with the client’s desired approach and outcome, and is someone who is qualified in that particular subject matter.

The attorney-client relationship is grounded in trust and honesty. A lawyer is not their client’s friend. A good lawyer should tell their client more than what they want to hear. They should be direct, issue-centric and set realistic expectations to prevent disappointment or surprise at the end.

Similarly, the client should ask questions, understand why things are being handled a certain way, be directly involved in the process, provide the attorney with all information requested and understand the consequences of his or her choices.

How can a team make a positive impact?
Just like delegating tasks to the right department, it is valuable to establish a team to manage the matter.
Attorneys are good at one thing: the law. They may not provide guidance on budgets, selling real estate, determining tax consequences, consolidating debts, finding child care or transferring assets.

Third-party providers, such as accountants, financial planners, bankers, insurance agents, mortgage brokers and real estate agents can provide useful services. Hiring those individuals sooner than later will give them the opportunity to answer questions during the process and provide services after. A small expense upfront can prevent unnecessary issues and cost later.

Further, a positive mindset is just as important as professional advice. Breakups are emotional, and counseling can help combat those sensitive issues. While it is necessary to tell an attorney the whole story, the juicy details may not be relevant or appropriate to share, yet may drive the underlying conflict.

It is healthier, and more cost-effective, to hire a counselor at the onset, as an outlet for emotional issues. A counselor may also help relieve stress that could impact work.

How can mediation minimize the detrimental effects of family law matters?
Mediation provides people with control over the outcome. A mediator is jointly hired by the parties to facilitate discussions between them to problem-solve solutions.

The process is confidential and prevents the public display of private matters. It is less expensive, both financially and emotionally, faster and can be arranged around employment schedules. Mediation also provides case finality and results in resolutions that will be less likely to return to court. The parties can find creative solutions that generate lasting agreements.

Mediation also teaches communication skills, which can alleviate reoccurring disputes.

When children are involved, parents must maintain a relationship and open communication until the children emancipate. Mediation provides a hands-on approach where the parties directly deal with the issues, rather than communicate through their advocates. In the end, the parties are better equipped and empowered to address future issues without the need of counsel.

Mediation provides a mechanism to keep personal issues out of court, which can lessen the potential impact on employment.

Insights Legal Affairs is brought to you by McCarthy, Lebit, Crystal & Liffman