This is the first in a multi-series set of articles that both seek to educate and update on my personal life.
I am looking to conduct a set of free webinars on Preventing Loss of Money from Divorce and introduce my trained agents who provide Investment and Estate Planning solutions to the problems listed.
I know it's been a super long time since I wrote an article.
Actually, that's incorrect. I wrote a whole bunch of articles but never really found the best time to publish them.
This blog has always been for my clients and loved ones. I felt it would be best to bring an update into my life and work, while simultaneously educating and informing.
...And I was busy. Getting Married. So. You know.
What is a Prenup?
A prenuptial agreement, also called a prenup or premarital agreement, is a legal contract that a couple signs before they get married.
It is essentially an agreement about money and property, especially if the couple separates or if one of them passes away. The goal is to make things clear and fair so that there are no arguments or problems later on.
Why Should I Get a Prenup?
Frankly speaking, I got a prenuptial agreement in place because both my income and my assets collected that are significantly larger than that of my spouse-to-be.
As a result, she knows very clearly what the division of assets will be like in the unlikely event of our divorce.
In Singapore, almost 65% of all of the divorces are initiated by women. In the US, it's closer to 85%, and even higher if they are college educated.
In both Singapore and the US, especially in the last 5 years, the number 1 reason for divorce is 'Women's Independence'. Basically, it means that the reason why the divorce is initiated is usually because the woman fundamentally doesn't believe that the marriage is worth continuing.
In Singapore, you can't divorce someone simply because you want to - it has to meet a criterion, which I've highlighted and provided. But as of 2021, the number 1 reason is 'unreasonable behavior', which really allows divorce to occur for reasons that are outside the more blatant, obvious ones such as abuse or adultery.
An uncontested divorce - meaning that both parties are able to quickly agree on the splitting of assets - could cost as low as $2500 to $3500 in terms of lawyer fees, since its simply administrative and perhaps having emails and 2 or 3 face-to-face meetings to negotiate certain items.
But a contested divorce could cost much more, upwards to 5, 6, 7 figure amounts depending on how much wealth is at stake. I've even heard of clients representing themselves because they're paying 5 figures per mediation, Additionally, you could lose even more money depending on the judgement of the Court - and it could be a proportion which you don't agree is fair. This is a much more prevalent situation for married men compared to married women (although I will address this in Part 2 as statistics of women outearning men are increasing year on year).
Everything above listed is factual, and so my opinion of Women's Charter in Singapore isn't particularly good as well. It makes sense to take measures to protect myself because there's increasingly lower incentives to get married.
What Should I Take Note of for a Prenup?
Singaporeans should know that Prenuptial agreements are not legally enforceable in Singapore. So unlike the US, Prenups are NOT a guarantee that your money will be distributed as stated in the contract.
So why did I still do up a Prenup? Well aside from laying out the financial circumstances clearly and openly from both parties, it's also helpful and more assuring to know that the prenuptial agreement will likely be taken into account in Court rulings.
I don't want a circumstance where I lose so much of my assets when my prenuptial agreement is tossed out for being unrealistic or unclear.
Naturally, the better and clearer it is, the more 'enforceable' it will be in Court. There's been some criticism of Prenuptial Agreements in places like the US, where some men are on an anti-marriage streak claiming that prenups get thrown out often - but when you look into the reasons, they almost always fall under 'common' reasons.
For example, the part where Prenups are largely disregarded is when it comes to the benefit of children, so you can try to demonstrate good faith by covering that in the prenuptial agreement as well. In English, this means that if you try something stupid like including in your Prenuptial agreement that your ex-wife has to waive her rights to child support because of the divorce, a judge will kick you in the face.
You'd be amazed how many examples I found overseas, where idiotic men thought that would be a good idea to try to bind a woman to legally provide fully for a child borne for them with no responsibility on their part.
There are many other reasons why a prenuptial agreement would only be minimally considered by the Courts, or even invalid, including:
a) Not having had legal advice on the spouse's end, and she signed something she basically didn't understand
b) Having conditions added last minute and having it signed under significant duress
c) Having unreasonable conditions in the prenup that piss off a judge, such as trying to include conditions where you never have to provide any child support if the wife initiates the divorce
How to Bring Up a Prenuptial Agreement and Objection Handling?
Presently I am consulting a friend who inherited a significant amount of money right before he was due to get married.
This drastically changed the financial dynamic between himself and his fiancé, where he was making less money than her a year but inherited a 7-figure sum. As a result, he had to postpone his wedding for half a year.
I highly recommended a prenuptial agreement. Naturally, he had fears about how to bring it up.
For the purposes of this, let's refer to the wealthy person as 'Rich' and the poorer fiancé as 'Poor'. (and proceed to burn me on social media for it)
a) Establish that this is a practical and responsible move for all parties.
If the shoe had been on the other foot, such an agreement would have been reasonable as well. Yes, it's not particularly romantic and most SO's may consider it a question of trust. But it's a matter of fairness and transparency as well. If you have a SO that won't get married to you without a prenuptial agreement, I really wouldn't recommend marrying that person.
b) Conduct reasonable risk management.
It is true that common fears for a Prenuptial Agreement on the 'Poor' side is that there's a huge power dynamic difference. Some absurd conditions include things like
i) The 'Poor's weight is not allowed to exceed a certain WEIGHT or is grounds for divorce. (actually, this isn't the craziest thing)
ii) The 'Poor' is not entitled to financial support in the event that the 'Poor' initiates the divorce, REGARDLESS of whether or not she gave up a career to raise children.
iii) The 'Poor' is not entitled to financial support from a divorce EVEN if the reason for initiating the divorce is proven by physical abuse.
With legal counsel, the 'Poor' should have assurance that such conditions are not only legally unenforceable but also counterproductive when it comes to the divorce distribution. Legal counsel would also assist the 'Poor' in relation to renegotiating fairer conditions in the event of a divorce.
c) Focus on the future
Ultimately, prenuptial agreements are already relatively limited and marital assets moving forward are even more likely to be fairly split, or even unevenly split in favor of the 'Poor'.
Doing exercises together to discuss finance, and other worries that might not have been considered - such as the sudden inheritance that could completely change a relationship dynamic - could be much more helpful for the relationship than hurtful, as it would show consideration for immediate and future family.
Frankly, I'm overjoyed that my partner understands my needs and the rationale behind a Prenuptial Agreement. Always ensure that you speak out of love and advocate for fairness and trust, rather than wielding it as a weapon in your marriage.
If you want to hear how I tailored my Prenup and Financial Solutions to ensure that my assets will never fall into the matrimonial pool in future, you can always drop me a message or respond to me here.
Feel free to like and share the article. There will be more on the way.