Prenuptial Agreement Lawyers in Singapore: Protecting Your Assets and Clarifying Intentions

Prenuptial Agreement Lawyers in Singapore: Protecting Your Assets and Clarifying Intentions

A prenuptial agreement, commonly known as a prenup, is an arrangement made by couples before entering into marriage. The purpose of a prenup is to establish how assets will be distributed and to address important matters related to the care and upbringing of children in the event of a divorce. While not directly enforceable under Singapore law, prenuptial agreements hold significant weight as evidence of the parties’ intentions and can play a vital role in divorce proceedings.

 

Case Studies Highlighting the Importance of Prenuptial Agreements:

  • Case 1: In this case, a couple who had been married for several years decided to divorce. Prior to their marriage, they had entered into a prenuptial agreement that clearly outlined the division of their assets. When it came to the division of property and financial matters, the court considered the terms of the prenuptial agreement and enforced its provisions. As a result, the divorce proceedings were expedited, and the couple experienced a more amicable resolution.
  • Case 2: This notable case involved a couple with significant business interests. They had the foresight to draft a prenuptial agreement that specified the treatment of their respective shares in the event of a divorce. The court recognized the validity of the prenuptial agreement, safeguarding their business assets and facilitating a smoother resolution of their divorce proceedings.
  • Case 3: This case involved a couple with substantial wealth and valuable assets. They had a prenuptial agreement in place that detailed the division of their assets and provisions for financial support in the event of a divorce. The court referred to the prenuptial agreement as evidence of the parties’ intentions, serving as a guiding document for the equitable division of assets and ensuring a fair outcome for both parties.

These case studies exemplify the significance of prenuptial agreements in Singapore. They showcase how prenups can play a vital role in determining the division of assets and financial arrangements during a divorce. Having a well-drafted and legally sound prenuptial agreement is essential to provide clarity, protect assets, and facilitate smoother divorce proceedings.

 

Prenuptial Agreements have evidentiary value in Matrimonial Proceedings – it is better to have a prenuptial agreement than not have one.

In addition to these case studies, judgments from Singapore courts have shed light on the significance of prenuptial agreements. Judges have recognized their evidentiary value and the intentions they establish. For instance, in a recent judgment, a judge observed that prenuptial agreements serve as an important means for couples to express their intentions and protect their respective interests in the event of a divorce. Whilst not always legally binding, they carry substantial weight in determining the division of assets.

 

Court maintains the ultimate authority to exercise its discretion even if a Prenuptial Agreement existed between the parties

It is important to note that while prenuptial agreements are considered as evidence of parties’ intentions, the court still maintains the authority to exercise its discretion in determining a fair division of assets and making provisions for the welfare of children. However, a well-drafted prenuptial agreement can provide a strong foundation for the court’s decision-making process.

Hence, prenuptial agreements are not always enforceable. The court will only uphold a prenuptial agreement if it is fair and reasonable. If the court finds that the prenuptial agreement is unfair or unreasonable, it may not be enforced.

 

Factors that determine the enforceability of Prenuptial Agreements

The court will consider a number of factors when determining whether or not a prenuptial agreement. Some of the most important factors include:

  • The age and maturity of the parties at the time the agreement was signed
  • The financial circumstances of the parties at the time the agreement was signed
  • The bargaining power of the parties at the time the agreement was signed
  • Any duress or coercion that was used to induce the parties to sign the agreement

 

What to Include in a Prenuptial Agreement:

While the specific terms of a prenuptial agreement will vary based on individual circumstances, some common points to include are:

  1. Identification of separate property owned by each spouse prior to marriage.
  2. Clarification of how future earnings, inheritances, and gifts will be treated in the event of a divorce.
  3. Agreement on how the marital property will be divided in the event of a divorce.
  4. Agreement on spousal support (reasonable maintenance) in the event of a divorce.
  5. Clarification of how debts incurred during the marriage will be divided.
  6. Agreement on how the income earned during the marriage will be used or invested.
  7. Establishment of any conditions or limitations, such as infidelity, that could lead to the termination of the agreement.
  8. Agreement on the handling of any future legal fees associated with the divorce.

By including these key elements in a prenuptial agreement, couples can establish a clear framework for asset distribution, financial responsibilities, and potential support arrangements in the event of a divorce.

 

A well drafted Prenuptial Agreement is an effective tool

In summary, a well drafted prenuptial agreement can serve as an effective tool to protect assets, clarify intentions, and provide peace of mind for couples entering into marriage. Seeking advice from experienced prenuptial agreement lawyers will ensure that the agreement reflects your specific needs and stands a higher chance of being upheld in court if needed.

 

Tips for getting a well drafted Prenuptial Agreement

  • Be honest with your partner about your assets.
  • Get independent legal advice from your own lawyer.
  • Make sure that the agreement is signed by both parties in the presence of a witness like a commissioner for oaths.
  • Keep the agreement confidential.

 

Other important points to take note when considering Prenuptial Agreements

  • The parties may enter into a prenuptial agreement to regulate their rights and liabilities during three different phases of their marriage e.g. (a) the period from the start of the marriage to  separation (if it happens);  (b) the years during separation and before divorce proceedings are filed, (c) the period between filing of divorce proceedings and the grant of Final Judgment of Divorce, and (d) the period post Final Judgment of Divorce.
  • Binding nature of prenuptial agreements signed as a deed: a prenuptial deed executed under seal by both parties with their signatures witnessed by the respective parties’ solicitors or independent commissioners for oaths or notaries as the case may be is presumed to be binding unless vitiating factors are established.
  • Vitiating Factors for prenuptial agreements: These factors can include misrepresentation, mistake, undue influence, duress, unconscionability, illegality, or public policy.
  • In one case, the existence of emails documenting the communication between the parties assisted one party to argue that the prenuptial agreement was not vitiated by undue influence.
  • Independent legal advice clauses in prenuptial agreements which state that a party  acknowledged receiving full and complete independent legal advice on the matters referred to in agreement imply that the party had an opportunity to understand the implications of the agreement before signing it.
  • Full and Final Settlement of maters in a prenuptial agreement: A prenuptial agreement may represent the full and final settlement of all matrimonial and ancillary matters between the parties. In particular, the prenuptial agreement may aim to resolve issues related to the division of assets, maintenance payments, custody, care, control, and access. Once a Final Judgment of Divorce is obtained, the provisions of the prenuptial agreement may continue to be enforceable.
  • The availability of independent legal advice is an important factor in determining the validity of a prenuptial agreement. It indicates informed consent and undermines arguments of undue influence or duress. Parties to a marriage often negotiate and execute such agreements under emotionally charged circumstances.
  • The court would not set aside a prenuptial agreement based on mere pressure felt by one party during negotiations. Some pressure is natural in such situations, and it does not meet the stringent legal requirements for vitiating a prenuptial agreement.
  • Affidavits based on evidence communicated by a party to a third party, such as a party’s mother, may be considered self-serving and unreliable in court proceedings concerning prenuptial agreements.
  • In general, when a prenuptial agreement is concerned, there is no pre-contractual obligation to disclose information during negotiations, unless it falls within certain narrow circumstances, such as contracts of utmost good faith in the insurance context. Mere non-disclosure does not amount to misrepresentation.
  • A prenuptial agreement is subject to ordinary principles of contract law, and there is no general pre-contractual obligation of disclosure imposed on parties.
  • Whilst the court may accord less weight to a valid prenuptial agreement if non-disclosure by one party led to an inequitable division of matrimonial property, there is no general obligation of disclosure in such agreements.
  • For a prenuptial agreement to be considered within the meaning of s 112(2)(e) of the Women’s Charter (referring to the ownership and division of matrimonial assets made in contemplation of divorce), there must be an agreement regarding the ownership and division of matrimonial assets, and it must have been made in contemplation of divorce.
  • Ambiguity in the terms of a prenuptial agreement may give rise to uncertainty in the division of matrimonial assets, but it does not necessarily render the agreement invalid or non-binding.
  • A court has jurisdiction to order the division of matrimonial assets, and parties cannot contractually oust this jurisdiction to ensure a just and equitable division.
  • Indirect contributions to a marriage, even if non-financial, may be recognized and assigned a monetary value in the division of matrimonial assets.
  • The determination of whether a prenuptial agreement qualifies as an agreement within the meaning of s 112(2)(e) of the Women’s Charter requires a comprehensive analysis of the agreement’s terms, including their intent and the overall context of the agreement.
  • An agreement between spouses, whether prenuptial agreement or post-nuptial, cannot in itself be enforceable to oust the court’s jurisdiction to order a just and equitable division of matrimonial assets. The court has the power to scrutinize the terms of the agreement and determine the weight to be accorded to it based on the division under the agreement and the facts of the case.
  • Weight given to prenuptial agreements: The weight given to a marital agreement depends on the specific circumstances of the case. Generally, if the agreement is freely and voluntarily entered into by the parties with the benefit of legal advice, the court will attach significant weight to it. However, the court will always examine the precise circumstances of the case to determine if giving weight to the agreement would be unfair, and the grounds for disregarding the agreement must be more substantial than a slight difference of opinion on the fairness of the distribution provided for in the agreement.
  • Division of Matrimonial Assets: The court’s overarching duty is to reach a just and equitable division of matrimonial assets, taking into account all the circumstances of the case. The court will consider factors listed in the relevant law, such as contributions of each party, including indirect contributions, and the needs of the parties and any children involved.
  • Indirect Contributions: Indirect contributions, such as caregiving for children and managing the household, can be recognized and contribute to the division of matrimonial assets. The court will assess the extent and significance of these indirect contributions in determining a fair and equitable division.
  • Consideration of Assets: In the division of assets, the court may exclude assets held in the respective names of the parties if agreed upon in a prenuptial agreement. However, certain assets, such as the matrimonial home, may be considered for division, especially if there is evidence of indirect contributions to its acquisition or maintenance.
  • Fairness and Equitable Division: The court will assess the fairness and equity of the division at the time the prenuptial agreement was entered into. It will take into account both the direct and indirect contributions of the parties, the length of the marriage, and the needs of any children involved. The division should be just and equitable based on the specific circumstances of the case.

 

Trust in Our Experience: Resolving Prenuptial Agreements Effectively

Our team of experienced lawyers has successfully handled numerous prenuptial agreement cases, providing our clients with sound legal advice and representation. We understand the nuances of Singaporean family law and will guide you through the intricacies of the process. Our goal is to secure a fair and equitable resolution, ensuring your financial well-being and the stability of your family.

The Straits Times, in collaboration with Statista, has recognized I.R.B Law as one of the leading family law firms in Singapore. This honor mirrors our unwavering commitment to legal excellence and our ability to deliver exceptional legal services tailored to our clients’ unique needs.

Trust in our dedicated team’s ability to guide you through this complex process with competence, compassion, and respect. Our team’s dedication, coupled with our experience in dealing with diverse and complex cases, makes us your ideal ally in seeking a successful resolution to your legal process in Singapore.

 

Author: Mohamed Baiross/IRB LAW LLP

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Meet Some of the Prenup Lawyers at IRB

Mohamed Baiross

Founding Partner

Baiross is the managing partner of IRB Law LLP. He is an experienced lawyer with an excellent reputation across a broad selection of practice areas including divorce, insolvency, crime, probate, syariah, and civil litigation.

Kulvinder Kaur

Partner

Kulvinder’s practice focuses on civil and commercial litigation, and matrimonial affairs. She has successfully obtained sole custody and highly favorable access arrangements for her clients (both mothers and fathers).

Cherie Tan

Partner

Cherie’s primary focus is on matrimonial matters where her empathy, sensitivity and patience has won her many cases involving divorce, maintenance and custody. She speaks English, Mandarin and Hokkien.

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