Prenuptial agreements, or prenups, are premarital agreements that couples make to determine what will happen to their possessions such as assets and debts should they, unfortunately, file for divorce.
Romantic? Not at all.
Practical? Most definitely.
And let’s be real. Nothing lasts forever. Not even true love. So what’s the point of getting married if you already have the preconceived notion of separating in the future?
The point here is understanding that anyone and anything can change in a heartbeat.
Feelings aside, here’s how you can protect yourself and your possessions in the case of a divorce. And yes, this applies to you, even if you don’t have $500 million to your name.
Key Takeaway About Prenups
You may only have $100 to your name but you should still get a prenup. It’s not simply about protecting yourself and your money but also assuring financial stability in your relationship.
It’s also about the principle of the agreement, to be 100% truthful and transparent about your finances with your partner.
A Little History Lesson Regarding Prenuptial Agreements
Prenuptial agreements never started out as protecting one’s own assets as a couple enters holy matrimony. But rather it’s what two different parties can bring into their union.
Did you also know that prenuptial agreements date all the way back to ancient Egypt? Other than establishing what property each spouse would bring into the marriage, prenups were also used to establish the bride’s dowry and bridewealth.
FYI: bridewealth is the cost a groom has to pay to the bride’s family in exchange for marrying her. It can be paid monetarily or in kind.
These agreements were mostly made by the couple’s parents and are rarely made by the couple themselves.
Prenups were also to assure that women could inherit their husband’s property in the case of their death. This was important as historically, women in most societies did not possess the right to own property.
What Is A Prenup For?
A prenuptial agreement is to have a prior understanding of the separation of the couple’s state of affairs to avoid complication or unfair separation of assets if divorce were to occur in the future.
A common misconception is that a prenup is purely for protecting one’s assets. However, it also protects you from taking on your spouse’s debts.
For example, if you and your partner had a prenuptial agreement which lists the outstanding liabilities and debt of both individuals clearly. As well as an agreement that the respective individual is solely responsible for clearing said liabilities and debt on their own account. Then it’s legally established that you will not have to pick up your partner’s tab if they were to default on their payments should separation or divorce were to occur.
Another very plausible example is the scenario where you decide to sponsor your partner’s school fees in his or her pursuance of higher education. With a prenup that clearly states that you are no longer obliged to pay for their school fees once you are divorced or separated, then you no are financially free from this obligation.
In other words, a prenup is to provide you and your partner the assurance that when things go south, there is a clear distinction with regard to the separation of assets and possessions.
On top of protecting yourselves, both of you are offering each other additional reassurance in the financial arrangement between you and your partner.
Are Prenuptial Agreements In Singapore Legal Binding?
Not if the agreement goes against any provisions in the Women’s Charter of Singapore. In the court of law, it is up to the judge’s prerogative to decide whether the agreement contradicts the requirements of the Women’s charter.
Just to be clear, the Women’s charter does not only protect women in marriages. As stated in Chapter 353 of Singapore Statutes Online, the women’s charter also protects “incapacitated husbands” and children.
So… How Do I Draft A Prenuptial Agreement?
I’ve established earlier that a prenup can be legally voided if it contravenes the Women’s Charter.
It is key that your prenuptial agreement is consonant with the provisions of the Women’s Charter. This would ensure that it has a higher chance of being upheld by the Singapore Courts.
Other than drafting a prenup on your own, you can also engage a family lawyer to draft the terms of the prenup.
Having a lawyer to draft the prenup would give you the benefit of having expert advice on the legal considerations pertaining to the effectiveness and also ensures that it is upheld by the Singapore Courts.
If you’re wondering how much it costs to get a lawyer in Singapore to draft a prenup: $2000.
What Happens If I Don’t Have A Prenuptial Agreement?
This is all circumstantial.
Contrary to popular belief, women do not, in fact, receive more alimony when a divorce happens. Each divorce situation is different, there truly is no predicting in how a couple’s assets will be divided.
The idea that women are more favoured or receive more assets or alimony during a divorce simply because she is a woman is a myth.
However, we can safely assume that without a prenup the process of the division of assets will probably be more tedious and complicated.
So why not save the tediousness and have a prenuptial agreement to save all that divorce hassle?
I’m Still Not Convinced…
You don’t have to be!
Perhaps it is not as important or ‘trendy’ to get a prenuptial agreement in Singapore.
Unlike in the United States for example, where according to the New York Times, there is a rising trend of millennial couples drafting a prenuptial agreement before getting married.
And this is due to the fact that couples are getting married when they’re older. Marrying at a later age means that individuals would have had more time to build their own wealth and assets, and this would give them even more incentive to protect themselves before entering a union.
Even if you feel that a prenup is not necessary, the concept of it is something which we can bring to our relationships.
It all boils down to the need to be upfront about each others’ finances and liabilities.
It’s definitely a great communicative exercise to be carried out between you and your partner to come to an agreement with regard to how you would handle the splitting of assets and liabilities in the unfortunate event that you both decide to call it quits.
Even if both of you decide that a prenup is not needed after the discussion, the act of having an open conversation about your finances will definitely benefit your relationship.