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Getting into a Prenuptial Agreement


Photo by d’ZIGN For You. Wedding of Stephanie & Richardo.

What are prenuptial agreements? Are they really necessary? Read on for professional legal advice about these binding documents!

A Pre-nup, the informal term for "prenuptial agreement", is a written (oral agreements are not recognised) contract entered into by two people before they are married. A typical prenuptial agreement list all of the assets as well as liabilities owned by each party and stipulates how these property rights will be after they are married.

Contrary to belief, prenuptial agreements aren’t just for the rich; couples of modest means are increasingly turning to them as well. For example, a couple marrying with children from prior marriage may use a prenuptial agreement to spell out what will happen to their assets when they pass on, so that they can bequeathed separate property to their children and still provide for each other, if necessary. Without a proper prenuptial agreement, the surviving spouse might have the right to claim a large portion of the other spouse’s properties and therefore, leaving much less for the children.

Usually a typical prenup have the following common provisions:

  1. Provision that each spouse's separately owned assets will remain his or her sale and separate property during the marriage;

  2. Provision confirming that each person is responsible for his or her own premarital debts;

  3. A waiver of the surviving spouse's legal right to claim a share of the other's separate property at death.

Begin planning for your prenuptial agreement at least three months before the wedding. This allows enough time for discussions, working out the details of your agreement and getting it reviewed. After which, the agreement will cemented into final form for signing, preferably before a Notary Public.
Although it’s possible to plan and finalise a prenuptial agreement in less than three months, moving too fast will add unnecessary stress and could undermine your efforts to create a clear and fair agreement.

Whether you’ve prepared the final agreement yourselves or with the help of a lawyer, it’s prudent to invite your partner's lawyer to review the agreement. Prenuptial agreementshave to be entered voluntarily and must not be unconscionable.

Most lawyers are able to undertake the drafting of prenuptial agreement but it would be advisable to seek the help of those who practice family law. The legal costs of preparing one could be from $1,000 to $5,000 depending on the complexity. Do ensure that you have an understanding with your lawyer before proceeding.

Would a prenuptial agreement be recognised by the Singapore court? Yes. As long as the prenuptial agreement does not undermine the authority of the court and the court's traditional position would not be compromised,  the courts would have no reason to dismiss it outright. The court is entitled to take into account the prenuptial agreement and give effect to the terms and conditions if the circumstances permit.
Prenuptial agreements were almost unheard of in Singapore but now some practitioners are seeing monthly occurrences...

Ending Note:
Marriage is a loving contract between two persons who has undying love for each other and decided that they want spend the rest of their lives together. In the eyes of the law, marriage is also a contract between two persons, definitely not about love, but it is about your financial rights and obligations.

A prenuptial agreement is simply protection against an unlikely and unforeseen “what if” circumstances, an important “insurance policy” on the legal issues of the marriage contract; it should not be viewed as a well-planned “exit strategy” or evidence of a lack of faith in the relationship. While you may find it tricky or uncomfortable to talk about marriage as if it were “business,” it is the exactly the right approach you should take when planning your prenuptial agreement.

Do take some time to consider a prenuptial agreement is necessary for you and your partner.

Article contributed by Chung Ting Fai
Chung Ting Fai & Co.
Address: 400 Orchard Road, #11-07, Orchard Tower, Singapore 238875
Tel: 6836 0735

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