What Is A Prenup? All About Prenuptial Agreements In Singapore

by | Jul 11, 2023 | Knowledge & Insights

prenuptial agreement singapore

Marriage can be an unforgettable experience between two loving people. It’s entrusting your heart to someone or sharing hopes and dreams about a future together. Couples celebrate this bond. But marriages aren’t perfect, and there will be problems in the future.

Thus, it is best to ensure your assets are protected and that you get an equal share in the marriage. If you get a prenuptial agreement in Singapore, you can avoid disputes with your partner in the long run.

What Is A Prenup Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement (prenup) is a written legal contract entered into by two people before marriage or a civil union that outlines how assets and finances will be handled both during the marriage and in the event of a Divorce or death.

For some couples, a prenup acts as insurance against future problems. If the couple Divorces, who gets a share of the assets? How will the children be protected? These are some just of the elements that a prenup usually covers.

In Singapore, prenups are not considered enforceable in and of themselves. Even though a prenup is considered binding, a Court may decide not to execute the terms.

The other party will not be compelled by the Court to fulfil the terms of the contract. There are cases where a Court will enforce prenuptial agreements, but it’s relatively uncommon.
So is a prenuptial even important? Yes. As it is still considered a legal contract, a prenup must be able to meet the criteria of any basic legal contract – it must consider the benefit of both parties and must not be enforced through fraud, unconscionability, or misrepresentation.

What Is A Postnup & How Is It Different From A Prenup?

The distinction between a prenuptial agreement (prenup) and a postnuptial agreement (postnup) is primarily based on the timing of their execution.

A postnuptial agreement is created and agreed upon after the couple is already married.

This type of agreement often arises when significant changes in the couple’s financial situation, such as inheritance, business ventures, or career paths, necessitating a re-evaluation of how assets and finances should be managed.

Here’s a summary on their differences:

AspectPrenuptial AgreementPostnuptial Agreement
Timing Of AgreementEntered into before marriage.Entered into after the marriage has taken place.
PurposeTo outline the management and division of assets, liabilities, and spousal maintenance in the event of Divorce or death.To readdress or redefine financial arrangements and asset division due to changes in circumstances after marriage.
Legal RecognitionNot as commonly used in Singapore but can be influential if fair and adheres to the Women’s Charter.More common than prenups; must also adhere to the principles of fairness under the Women’s Charter.
Child Custody And SupportCannot include terms about child custody and support. The Court makes decisions on these matters at the time of Divorce.Similarly, cannot predetermine child custody and support issues. These are subject to Court discretion.
Enforceability CriteriaMust be fair, entered into voluntarily, with full disclosure of assets. Independent legal advice for both parties is recommended.Same as prenups: requires fairness, voluntariness, full disclosure, and often independent legal advice.
Flexibility And AmendmentsTypically fixed at the time of marriage, although clauses for future amendments can be included.More flexible to change, as they can be updated to reflect the changing dynamics and financial situations in a marriage.

Who Needs A Prenup?

A prenuptial agreement (prenup) is not just for the wealthy or those with substantial assets. Various groups of individuals may find a prenup particularly beneficial due to the specific circumstances or complexities in their personal and financial lives. Here’s a look at who might need a prenup in Singapore:

Entrepreneurs And Business Owners

Individuals who own a business or are partners in a business venture may opt for a prenup to protect their interests. This ensures that the business operations are not adversely affected during a marital dissolution.

Professionals With Substantial Assets

High-earning professionals or those with considerable personal assets might seek a prenup to clarify what is considered marital property and what remains as a separate property, thereby safeguarding their pre-marital assets.

Individuals With Significant Debts

A prenup can protect one spouse from being liable for the other’s debts, especially if one party enters the marriage with a significant debt burden.

Couples Entering Second Or Subsequent Marriages

For those entering second or subsequent marriages, a prenup can help secure assets for children from a previous marriage. It ensures that certain assets are earmarked for those children, respecting prior familial commitments.

Couples With Large Disparities In Wealth

When one partner is significantly wealthier than the other, a prenup can help manage expectations and provide assurance about financial arrangements in the marriage.

Individuals Seeking Clarity On Financial Responsibilities

A prenup can be a tool for couples who wish to clearly define their financial rights and responsibilities during the marriage, thus preventing future disputes.

Couples With International Ties

In cases where one or both partners have substantial connections to another country (assets, citizenship, residency), a prenup might be necessary to address the complexities of cross-jurisdictional laws regarding marriage and Divorce.

What Can Prenuptial Agreements Include?

Usually, a prenup agreement defines an equal property division between the couple. This is considered valid during and after the marriage (due to separation or Divorce).

Here are the other elements that a prenup can cover:

  • Division of property during the marriage (Couples may split their assets 45/50 30/70. It depends on their decision.)
  • Division of properties when the couple has Divorced, or an unfortunate circumstance results in the death of the other party
  • Debts and liabilities owned by either one or both of the parties
  • Maintenance concerns
  • The governing law under the prenup

The enforceability of a prenup in Singapore is much more complex. This is because previous Court decisions and written laws all have to be taken into account before the Court decides if the prenup is enforceable.

What Happens If You Don’t Make A Prenup In Singapore?

Suppose a couple in Singapore does not have a prenuptial agreement. In that case, the Women’s Charter generally governs the division of assets and decisions regarding maintenance (spousal support) in the event of a Divorce.

Here’s how it typically works under the Women’s Charter:

Division Of Assets

The division of matrimonial assets in Singapore is based on principles of fairness and equity. The Court will consider various factors, such as the duration of the marriage, the contributions made by each party (both monetary and non-monetary, such as homemaking and caregiving), and the needs of the children.

Matrimonial Home

Special consideration is often given to the division of the matrimonial home. The Court will consider factors like the housing needs of the children and the custodial parent.

Maintenance (Alimony)

Maintenance for the wife or ex-wife is considered case-by-case. Factors include the financial needs and capacities of each party, the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, and the age and health of the parties.

Men are generally not awarded maintenance under Singaporean law, although the Court may order maintenance for the husband under exceptional circumstances.

Child Support

Decisions regarding child support are made with the child’s best interests in mind. Both parents are responsible for the financial support of their children.

Without a prenuptial agreement, couples in Singapore rely on the legal system to make decisions regarding their assets and maintenance obligations should they decide to Divorce. The Court has broad discretion in these matters, and each case is judged on its unique circumstances.

This process can be unpredictable and varies greatly depending on individual circumstances. Prenuptial agreements in Singapore, while not as common or as binding as in some other jurisdictions, can offer a way for couples to pre-arrange some of these matters. However, they must be reasonable and not contravene the principles of the Women’s Charter.

Benefits Of Getting A Prenup

5 Main Benefits Of Getting A Prenup Before Getting Married In Singapore

One of the main benefits of getting a prenup is avoiding drawn-out Court battles that affect a couple. Court cases are expensive and can take an emotional toll on a couple. Getting a prenup may not be the first thing on their list, but it does allow them to have frank conversations.

Ensure Certainty In Financial Agreements

If you have amassed some wealth and you find a partner who isn’t as well off, you may risk your finances during a Divorce. So, you may want to take strides in protecting your assets.

Before getting married, have an honest discussion with your future spouse about your finances. Ensure that both parties will receive equitable dividends in the event of a Divorce.

Establish Marital Property

The Court will divide a couple’s matrimonial assets based on several factors in a Divorce process. It’s considered a highly-contestable issue in Singapore, given that the result may significantly impact the other party’s standard of living.

Section 112 of the Women’s Charter delineates matrimonial assets as:

  • Acquisition of the asset by one or both of the parties throughout the marriage
  • Assets that the parties or the children have used
  • Acquisition of assets before the marriage but has improved in quality and value during the marriage

Many things can be considered as assets, from the family car to a savings account owned by one of the parties. The HDB flat where the couple and children lived during the marriage may also be considered marital property.

Makes Divorce Proceedings Less Complicated

One cannot trace the starting point of the events leading up to the Divorce. It is usually a culmination of factors. Nevertheless, most couples are often on the same page about Divorce. But, there are instances where they start disagreeing on important issues, and this could make the process expensive.

The price of getting Divorced in Singapore can be costly, especially if it is a contested one. Not to mention, a divorce can also emotionally impact both parties and any children involved (especially if they’re young).

However, with a well-drafted prenup, separating couples may avoid the above issues. Disputes may still arise, but they’re infrequent and will likely resolve quickly.

Protects Against Financial Woes

When marrying a person, you may not know of any debt obligations they may have. Protect yourself from shouldering this debt with a prenup.

For example, if one of the parties owes a high debt to creditors, the debt-free partner should not take on this cost. A prenuptial agreement can better serve your interests as it allows both parties to discuss debts and relief of obligations.

Ensures Your Children’s Security

If you have children from a previous relationship and want to ensure they get a share of your assets, a prenup can help. Your children will still have rights to your property, and they can benefit from their use.

What To Consider When Drafting A Prenuptial Agreement

5 Important Things To Consider When Drafting A Prenuptial Agreement In Singapore

When drafting a prenup, make sure its contents are pertinent and consistent with the policies and provisions in the Women’s Charter. This increases its chances of being upheld by the Courts.

Here are five key items you must note:

1. Full And Frank Disclosure Of Assets And Liabilities

Many couples fail to fully disclose their financial status, including all assets and liabilities. This lack of transparency can lead to the prenup being challenged or invalidated in Court.

Under Singapore’s Women’s Charter, the concealment of assets is serious and can significantly affect the agreement’s enforceability.

2. Review And Amendment Clauses

Couples often miss provisions for reviewing and amending the agreement. Life circumstances change, such as children’s birth, financial status changes, or long-term illness.

A prenup without the flexibility to adapt to significant life changes can become outdated and may not reflect the couple’s current situation when needed.

3. Alignment With The Women’s Charter Principles

Some prenups may include inherently unfair or unreasonable clauses, particularly concerning the division of assets and spousal maintenance.

The prenup must adhere to the principles of fairness and equity as outlined in the Women’s Charter. Unfair or one-sided agreements are likely to be disregarded by Singapore Courts.

4. Independent Legal Representation & Advice

It’s a common oversight not to seek independent legal advice for each party. This can lead to one party not fully understanding the agreement’s implications.

Independent legal counsel ensures that both parties’ interests are adequately represented and understood, which is vital for the prenup’s validity.

5. Exclusion Of Child Custody And Support

Including terms about child custody and support is a mistake. In Singapore, these matters are determined based on the child’s best interests at the time of Divorce and cannot be pre-determined in a prenuptial agreement. Any attempt to include such terms can render parts of the agreement invalid.

Conclusion About What Is A Prenup/Marital Prenup Agreement In Singapore

While prenuptial agreements can provide security and clarity for couples entering marriage, it’s important to understand that their enforceability in Singapore is subject to the Court’s discretion.

The Court retains the ultimate authority to decide whether the agreement serves the interests of justice at the time of the Divorce.

For this reason, couples considering a prenup in Singapore should seek comprehensive legal advice to ensure that their agreement is drafted in a manner that maximises its potential enforceability.

If you want a well-drafted prenup, you may hire the services of our family lawyers at Singapore Family Lawyer. Get practical and sound legal advice by booking a free consultation with us through our WhatsApp hotline.

Frequently Asked Questions About What Is A Prenup/Marital Prenup Agreement In Singapore

Is It A Good Idea To Get A Prenuptial Agreement?

Yes. A prenup can be a wise investment. Not only does it help you anticipate future marital problems, it can also help avoid costly Divorce battles if the marriage does not last.

Does A Prenup Expire?

No. Unless a clause in the prenup contract defines its expiration date, the prenup should remain valid. If any amendments or revocations are to be made, they must have the consent of both parties.

Can You Revoke A Prenuptial Agreement?

Yes. A couple can nullify the original prenup if both of them mutually agree to do so.

Does Cheating Void A Prenup?

No, any infidelity or spousal abuse cannot be grounds for a prenup to become invalid — unless stated otherwise.

What Should I Know Before Signing A Prenup?

Before you enter into a contract with your partner, you’ll have to be comfortable disclosing your financial information. Financial information may include assets and investments such as real estate, liabilities, property, etc.

About the author

About the author

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan is the Founder and Managing Director of Tembusu Law. He is also the founder of LawGuide Singapore, a prominent legaltech startup which successfully created and launched Singapore’s first legal chatbot in 2017.