Vikki Ziegler: The "Obi-Wan Kenobi" Of Marriage & Divorce
One of my best girlfriends, Georgia, came over yesterday to discuss the complexities of “our” relationships. It seems that the older you get, the more there are and, currently, both our hemispheres were swirling out of control as were our heads. We needed each other’s soundness and advice to figure things out with our respective partners. No doubt, we also could have used the help of Vikki Ziegler, the remedy expert and host of “Untying The Knot” (Bravo).
A divorce attorney by trade, Vikki Ziegler is everything you wouldn’t expect a divorce attorney to be, especially given the nature of the profession and the dower meaning of each of these words - divorce and attorney. Pooled together, the phrase is enough to invoke fear and anger in even the least fragile of hearts. Add to it that Vikki is also from New Jersey and the image of Tony Soprano further colors your assumptions about this dynamo in action. (I can say this as I, literally, grew up one town away from where Vikki did).
It is only when you meet her, watch her show or become closely acquainted with the various avenues of her work (of which there are many and growing), do you realize how enormously strong a proponent of marriage Vikki Ziegler, actually, is. To put it bluntly, Vikki wants couples to succeed and all of her advice, suggestions, recommendations, and overall helpfulness arrive from this perspective.
A child of divorce, herself, Vikki knows the pain inflicted by such a heart-wrenching process. It’s that first-hand knowledge that motivates her to help circumvent such happenings for others or, at the very least, devise a before and after plan that softens the blows when no other alternative is available or chosen.
An Obi-Wan Kenobi of marriage and divorce, so-to-speak, whose legal prowess does as much for keeping married folks together as it does for saving them from absolute ruin, Vikki Ziegler is the type of wise voice one can only wish she has in the room during times of marital strife and crisis. Make “today” the day you get to know her better -- especially those who are feeling as if the clock is ticking on their own marital relationships. The moments you spend today just might circumvent the anguish you feel tomorrow and Vikki’s insights come “free” through this interview, just as they do each week through Untying The Knot.
What is your personal mantra?
“Every dark cloud has a silver lining," is my favorite saying. Personal mantra, “God is great.”
Do you believe in marriage as being the lifelong commitment it originated as?
It can be as long as people work hard at it. The minute you stop working hard, I don’t believe it can be long lasting.
Have you ever been married?
Yes, and I am happily married for three years.
You’re making a highly successful career out of educating couples to the legal implications and responsibilities marriage bares. How many couples today enter into prenuptual agreements?
Very hard to know as most are not recorded with the court. A guestimate, one in twenty-five women are entering into them today, based upon the history of my practice.
Many people believe that prenuptual and postnuptual agreements force couples to focus on the demise of marriages and provide easy paths to end marriages. Share your thoughts on this way of thinking. How do you get such individuals to see the other side.
I think it is a crucial tool to help people start talking about how they would divide assets provided a divorce occurred. It is a positive step to establish a marriage. It might not be romantic, but they are smart as you can help circumvent unnecessary litigation and enormous costs associated with divorce. We are integrating estate-planning as well in these agreements.
Share with us some legal “absolutes” individuals need to check-off their lists before they find themselves at the alter?
Know what state you are living in -- an equitable distribution state or community property state;
Do you need a prenuptual agreement? Speak to an attorney;
Discuss with your partner your financial personality, plan, and history.
What don’t couples know to ask?
Most people don’t know to ask about the debt your partner comes into the marriage with. Also, what issues caused the demise of their partner's prior relationships.
What are the top three reasons couples divorce? Do these reasons vary in subsequent marriages or remain, basically, the same?
People repeat the same mistakes. People don’t create a strong marital foundation. They focus on the wedding. People marry for the wrong reasons. People don’t realize that life events occur and if you don’t have a strong marital relationship, you don’t weather the storm.
Do you think the manner in which the United States views marriage (romantic, loving unions) is better or worse than the highly practical manner in which many other countries view it?
Other countries have a better view on it given the goal is establishing a life-long relationship.
Do you think that arranged marriages are realistic today?
They are very difficult. I understand the religious component of it but it doesn’t set two individuals up for the happiest marriage possible.
Do you believe that successful marriages have to have love between the partners or does love get in the way?
I think you need love, friendship, trust and loyalty. Love overflows into intimacy.
Tell us about your newest book “The Pre-Marital Planner, A Complete Legal Guide To A Perfect Marriage.”
This guide pulls together all of the problems people could face in a marriage (based on my experience) and provides multiple questionnaires regarding everything from finance to intimacy, same sex marriage, civil unions, prenuptual agreements, cohabitation agreements...the all of it.
Define a “Perfect” marriage in your eyes?”
One where two people respect each other, support each other unconditionally, love kindly, remain honest, and show gratitude for one another.
What is the most important benefit viewers will get out of watching your show “Untying the Knot” (Bravo)?
That you can divorce with dignity and that you can end a marriage through mediation rather than the enormous expense and pain many divorces falter to.
What’s next for you?
“Love, Lies & Litigation,” a novel. An app called “Divorce Dating.” Have a hair perfume coming out called “Lavish.”
What do you say to people who shake their fingers at you with the accusation of “turning a buck on other people’s pain?”
I didn’t break up the marriage. I’m here to help you pick up the pieces as move on. I’m here to facilitate a peaceful resolution and help couples get on with the next chapter of their lives.
Are you involved in or support a social cause? Explain?
Many of them, including Make A Wish Foundation. I am also an advocate for women and men who have been affected of domestic violence.
When all is said and done, how do you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as a person who “lit the flame” and paid-it-forward in every aspect of my life.
They say that “you divorce a very different person than you marry!” I, resoundingly, agree having, unfortunately, experienced one myself. It is this experience that finds, Vikki Ziegler’s perspective on marriage and divorce refreshing, realistic, and "yes," even romantic. She eliminates the blindness that too many of us carry into both situations (to our own detriments) and paves the way for love and success to flourish in a mature fashion. What’s more refreshing, realistic or romantic than that?
Many thanks to Vikki ZIegler and BWR Public Relations for making this interview possible