Advice about getting married and planning a wedding is readily available, particularly in the online world where anyone can ask a question and receive an answer. Advice for couples considering separation, however, is harder to come by. That’s where Vikki Ziegler, co-founder and partner in the law firm of Ziegler and Zemsky in Livingston, NJ, comes in.
Ziegler, more famously known as the “Divorce Diva” from BRAVO TV’s series, Untying the Knot, is on a mission to offer both Jersey natives and the rest of the world some much needed help when it comes to hot separation topics such as “conscious uncoupling.”
The Wayne native recently launched #DearVikki, a weekly show on Facebook Live and Instagram Live. On #DearVikki, Ziegler answers your toughest relationship and divorce questions, so you can work through issues with minimal drama.
“I’m asked about relationships and legal issues all the time,” Ziegler said. She explained she wanted to create her own forum, so people could ask questions they might be afraid to ask otherwise. Having that forum on social media would allow her to share the answers with others who also need this information.
This clip is from my very first weekly Facebook Live segment, #DearVikki! See the rest of my answer to this question on my Facebook page and submit your own questions for me to answer next week. I’ll be doing this every Wednesday at 2:30 EST! DM me and stay tuned to see if your questions get answered? #vikkiziegler #relationshipexpert
Tips for a Better Breakup
So what relationship and financial advice would Ziegler give couples who are thinking about separating? Here are some key focal points she gave to Best of NJ:
- First, get counseling and decide if the marriage is worth saving. Make the decision jointly, said Ziegler. She pointed out many times one person wants to leave and the other doesn’t, so get an expert’s opinion.
- If the decision is to separate, decide what you are going to do with the marital home. “Often the most valuable asset in a marriage is the home,” Ziegler said. If you have kids, you also need to decide where they will live, and with whom.
- Gather your other assets. This includes any funds in bank accounts and retirement accounts, said Ziegler. Take inventory on your furniture and jewelry. Figure out what assets are to be divided, and then decide how they do get divided during a consultation with a divorce and family law attorney.
- Set an example of good co-parenting. It may be difficult at times, but, “You need to remember why you married that person in the first place,” Ziegler said. If you have children, you need to let them see that you can successfully co-parent and respect one another, so they can mirror healthy relationships.
Get a Prenup
To Ziegler, author of The Pre-Marital Planner: A Complete Legal Guide to a Perfect Marriage, prenups are a ‘big deal.’ Simply put, everyone needs one. “It is important to put your money where you want it to go, not where the law states it should go,” said Ziegler. You have the right in a prenup to keep everything separate. In other words, if you don’t have a prenup and you get divorced, the law starts to dictate how things will be divided. But in a prenup, you can specify how you want things divided.
Especially with second marriages, where there are kids from the first marriage, you want to make sure your kids inherit your assets, unless you directly leave them to your spouse. “So prenups are another mechanism for estate planning, which a lot of people don’t realize,” Ziegler said. The prenup should also provide for life insurance during the marriage.
You need a prenup even if you are young, and have yet to accumulate any assets, said Ziegler. As she puts it, “You don’t know what the future holds; you do not have a crystal ball!” Most people who are working will be acquiring assets and income.
And don’t forget pets. “I see pet custody as the biggest issue after children in divorce, because they become part of the family,” said Ziegler. Pets owned prior to the marriage should be accounted for in the prenup.
“After 20 years of practicing family law, you become something of an expert or quasi-expert in all things relationship,” Ziegler said. She calls #DearVikki ‘a 4-1-1 of life.’ It’s a place for both women and men to come to in a safe format, and get the advice they need.