A prenuptial agreement is a document, signed before marriage, setting out the couple’s rights in relation to any property, debts, income and other assets purchased together or acquired individually (eg, through inheritance).
Prenuptial agreements can provide a measure of certainty and the means of protecting pre-marriage assets, inheritance, and existing family commitments such as children from a previous marriage. Legally, once married, all of these assets become matrimonial assets and, unless specifically protected, are thrown into a single financial pot. One of the purposes of a prenuptial agreement can therefore be to limit the potential claims on the wealth of one of the parties to the marriage.
When might a prenuptial agreement be necessary
If you think any of the following scenarios apply to you, a prenuptial agreement could be right for you:
- I am thinking of getting married and want to protect my property in case the marriage doesn’t work out;
- I am about to marry for a second time and want to limit any potential claims on the settlement I received from my first marriage if things go wrong again;
- I am a widower thinking of marrying again. I want to protect my assets in case things go wrong;
- I am about to marry but worry that if things go wrong we could end up in a costly and lengthy argument about ‘who gets what’;
- I am about to marry for a second time but want to protect my assets to ensure I have something to leave in my will to the children from my first marriage if my new relationship breaks down.
Things to consider in a prenuptial agreement
- Don’t wait till the last minute to prepare your prenuptial agreement. An agreement signed on the way to your stag or hen party is less likely to be upheld than one carefully thought out and signed a month or so before.
- Both parties must take independent legal advice. This avoids accusations that undue pressure was put on either party to sign the agreement. It also means that both parties can ensure that the party with the most to lose understands the nature and implications of the agreement they are about to sign.
- Full disclosure of each party’s respective financial positions must be made prior to the agreement being prepared.
- Think carefully about the terms and make the agreement as precise, clear and detailed as possible.
- Think about and decide upon how you would deal with changes in circumstance that may arise during the marriage and what would happen in these instances. For example, having children, loss of employment, inheritance and the acquisition of further assets.
- Also consider putting in regular reviews of the agreement at agreed times during the marriage. The length of the marriage can have a bearing on whether the agreement remains enforceable and periodic reviews of the provision can help with this.
Will a prenuptial agreement be enforced by the Singapore Court?
At present a prenuptial agreement does not carry the same weight as a Court Order and will not automatically be upheld or enforced by a Singapore Court in the event of a divorce and/or disagreement.
The Courts do however take them seriously, as a prenuptial agreement is evidence of the parties’ intentions to each other in the event of a relationship breakdown and a factors to be taken into account when looking at all the circumstances of a case.
The Court will, in particular, consider the following:
- Did the party with the most to lose understand the nature of the prenuptial agreement?
- Did both parties have independent legal advice?
- Was either party under pressure to sign the agreement?
- Was there full financial disclosure?
- Would an injustice be done if the prenuptial agreement were upheld?
It is therefore crucial to ensure that you are aware of your rights and the full circumstances of your situation at the time of preparing and signing the prenuptial agreement. Our lawyers at Yeo Law are experienced in all aspects of prenuptial agreements. Call us at 62203400 or request a call using our online form for unbiased and indepth advice if you are considering a prenuptial agreement or if you have any doubts with regard to the prenuptial agreement your intended spouse has prepared.