Prenuptial Agreements in Singapore

Last updated on April 18, 2019

Featured image for the "Prenuptial Agreements in Singapore" article. It features a close up of a person signing a prenuptial agreement.

What are Prenuptial Agreements?

Prenuptial agreements are contracts entered into between spouses prior to marriage.

Some couples view prenuptials as practical solutions to determine with certainty their respective rights over property, maintenance, and custody matters, as a form of insurance against the possibility of divorce.

The Singapore Court of Appeal upheld a particular prenuptial agreement in the 2009 landmark decision of TQ v TR. Nevertheless, the Court of Appeal was quick to warn that not all prenuptial agreements will necessarily be upheld and enforced upon the parties.

Though, given their contractual nature, they must also satisfy the requirements of any basic legal contract. This means that prenuptial agreements must be supported by consideration, and must not be obtained through misrepresentation, fraud, duress, unconscionability, or undue influence.

Are Prenuptial Agreements Valid and Enforceable by the Court?

A prenuptial agreement (or any term in it) which contravenes any express provision or legislative policy embodied within the Women’s Charter will not be upheld. In divorce proceedings, the court is entitled to scrutinise the prenuptial agreement and decline to uphold the agreement if it contradicts the requirements of the Women’s Charter.

Specifically, under section 112 of the Women’s Charter, the court has the power to divide the matrimonial assets of the parties in a just and equitable manner with reference to the prescribed circumstantial factors. In the midst of doing so, the court can refer to the prenuptial agreement, but is not bound to follow the agreement.

Prenuptial agreements governed by foreign laws and entered into by foreign nationals may also be conferred special significance by the courts.

In the words of the Court of Appeal,

“Persons might (particularly in jurisdictions where prenuptial agreements were commonplace) decide to get married only because of the assurance furnished by a binding prenuptial agreement. It would be neither just nor equitable for the wife to now ask the court to allow her to evade her responsibilities under the Agreement”.

However, that is not to say that the court would not be vigilant to guard against agreements repugnant to the provisions of the Women’s Charter.

Similarly, in the award of maintenance (whether to a spouse or to the parties’ children), the court is bound to follow the instructions prescribed under section 114 of the Women’s Charter. In other words, it may refer to but is not compelled to follow the terms of the prenuptial agreement.

The aforementioned principles also apply to matters of custody, access, and care and control – the parties cannot usurp the ultimate power of the court to decide what is best for the children.

Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

Postnuptial agreements are made in circumstances that are very different from those existing in relation to prenuptial agreements. Such differences may lead to the court according postnuptial agreements more weight than prenuptial agreements in the exercise of their discretion under section 112(2)(e) of the Women’s Charter.

What are the Matters That Can be Dealt with in a Prenuptial Agreement?

Most, if not all matters, pertaining to the state of affairs between 2 persons married to each other can be dealt with in a prenuptial agreement.

The prenuptial agreement can relate to the ownership or division of property, as well as maintenance issues, during the marriage and upon the separation or divorce of the parties.

It can also decide issues involving the care of their children.

What are the Usual Terms in a Prenuptial Agreement?

The usual terms of a prenuptial agreement include:

  1. Ownership of property during the marriage (parties may decide on special arrangements, like a 30/70 ownership of a house);
  2. Division of properties during separation or divorce or death of one party;
  3. Liabilities and debts owed by one or both parties;
  4. Maintenance issues; and
  5. Governing law of the prenuptial agreement (hypothetically, if the governing law is Dutch, and the Dutch legal system recognises prenuptial agreements, the Singapore courts may confer this agreement more significant weight).

Benefits of Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements can:

  1. Offer additional certainty in the financial arrangements of the parties;
  2. Protect the assets acquired by one party before the marriage;
  3. Protect spouses from the debts incurred by the other party; and
  4. Protect family heirlooms or family businesses in the event of divorce and enforced division.

How to Draft a Prenuptial Agreement

While deciding on the terms of the prenuptial agreement, it is pertinent to refer to the policies and express provisions of the Women’s Charter. If the agreement is consonant with the Charter, the chances of it being upheld by the Singapore courts is greater.

An experienced family lawyer can be engaged to draft the terms of the prenuptial agreement and guide the spouses with the various legal considerations.

Before getting a divorce
  1. Drafting a Deed of Separation in Singapore (Instead of Divorcing)
  2. Alternatives to Divorce in Singapore: A Practical Guide
  3. Process for Getting Divorced in Singapore (With Diagram)
  4. What are the Legal Grounds for Getting a Divorce?
  5. 3 Finance Questions To Ask Before a Divorce
  6. Practical Preparations for a Divorce
  7. How to Divorce Within 3 Years of Marriage in Singapore
  8. Getting Divorced: Documents and Evidence to Prepare
  9. Getting a Divorce Due to “Irreconcilable Differences” in Singapore
  10. Online Divorce in Singapore: How It Works and Should You Get One?
  11. How Can I Divorce Overseas After Marrying in Singapore?
Divorce Fees
  1. Comprehensive Guide to Divorce Fees in Singapore
Getting a Divorce Lawyer
  1. 7 Experienced Female Divorce Lawyers in Singapore (2024)
  2. Can a Divorcing Couple Use the Same Lawyer? Pros and Cons
  3. 7 Best Divorce and Family Lawyers in Singapore (2024)
  4. The Complete Guide to Choosing a Good Divorce Lawyer in Singapore
  5. Don’t Just Go for the Cheapest Divorce Lawyer in Singapore
  6. Find Highly Rated Divorce Lawyers in Singapore
  7. Child Custody Lawyers in Singapore: Do I Need One?
Proving Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage
  1. How to Prove Adultery for Divorce Purposes in Singapore
  2. Getting a Divorce: How to Prove Desertion
  3. Getting a Divorce by Mutual Agreement in Singapore
  4. How to Prove Unreasonable Behaviour in a Singapore Divorce
  5. How to Prove Separation for a Singapore Divorce
Application for Divorce Part I: Dissolution of Marriage
  1. Your Spouse Doesn't Want to Divorce: What to Do
  2. Procedure for Dissolution of Marriage
  3. Simplified Uncontested Divorce vs Contested Divorce in Singapore
  4. Mandatory Parenting Programme Guide for Divorcing Parents
  5. Divorce Mediation in Singapore
  6. Divorce Application: What to Do If Your Spouse Cannot be Found
Application for Divorce Part 2: Ancillary Matters (Maintenance, Assets, Custody)
  1. Contempt of Court in Divorce: When You Can be Punished
  2. Guide to Co-Parenting for Divorcing Parents in Singapore
  3. Procedure for Ancillary Matters
  4. Maintenance of Spouse in a Singapore Divorce
  5. Filling in a Matrimonial Property Plan for a Singapore Divorce
  6. Dividing Matrimonial Assets in a Singapore Divorce
  7. What Happens to Your HDB Flat after Divorce?
  8. What Happens to Gifts Between Spouses During a Divorce?
  9. What Happens to Property and Assets Located Overseas Upon a Divorce in Singapore?
  10. Child Custody, Care and Control & Access: Singapore Guide
  11. Getting Divorced: Child Maintenance in Singapore
  12. Singapore Divorcee's Guide to Relocating Your Child Overseas
  1. How to Vary a Child Custody Order in Singapore
  2. How to Appeal Your Divorce Case in Singapore
  3. Divorce Certs in Singapore: How to Get a Copy and Other FAQs
  4. Transfer of Matrimonial Home to Ex-Spouse After Divorce
  5. Can Divorcees Buy or Rent HDB Flats, and How?
  6. What to Do If Your Ex-Spouse Does Not Provide Maintenance
  7. How to Vary a Maintenance Order After a Singapore Divorce
  8. What to Do If Your Ex-Spouse Denies You Access to Your Child
  9. Division of CPF Assets (Monies, House, Investments) After a Divorce
Expatriate Divorce
  1. Divorce for British Expats: Spousal Maintenance Under the Law of England and Wales
  2. Settling Ancillary Matters in Singapore After Foreign Divorce
  3. Typical issues in Singapore/England Divorces
  4. Immigration Issues for Divorcing Expatriates
  5. Can Foreigners Divorce in Singapore?
  6. Expat or Foreigner Divorce in Singapore: 10 Legal Issues to Consider
  7. Hague Convention: Overseas Child Abduction in Singapore Divorce
  8. Case Study: Cross-Border Child Custody and the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction
  9. Can British Expats in Singapore Choose to Divorce in England?
  10. Divorce for British Expats: Approach to Matrimonial and Non-Matrimonial Assets in England vs Singapore
  11. Divorce for British Expats: How the English Courts Deal with Financial Matters
Muslim or Syariah Divorce
  1. Fasakh in a Muslim Divorce in Singapore: Grounds & Process
  2. Divorce by Cerai Taklik: Guide for Muslim Wives in Singapore
  3. Muslim Divorce in Singapore
  4. Talak in a Muslim Divorce in Singapore (and Its Effects)
  5. Guide to Divorcing by Khuluk for Muslim Wives in Singapore
  6. Applying for Nafkah Idaah and Mutaah in a Muslim Divorce in Singapore
Other divorce matters
  1. Guide to Personal Protection Orders in Singapore
  2. Case Study - Love conquers All: The Divorce That Didn’t Happen
  1. Annulling a Singapore Marriage: Requirements and Process
  2. What Happens to Your HDB Flat After an Annulment?
  1. Separation in Singapore Via Deed of Separation and More
  2. Judicial or Legal Separation in Singapore: When and How to File
Prenuptial and Post-Nuptial Agreements
  1. Prenuptial Agreements in Singapore
  2. Should You Make a Post-Nuptial Agreement in Singapore?