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Close Up The Great Debate: Is a Prenup Good for a Marriage?

The Great Debate: Is a Prenup Good for a Marriage?

The Great Debate: Is a Prenup Good for a Marriage?
By Singapore Tatler
May 06, 2015

Is a Prenup Good for a Marriage? Elaine Lim-Chan, Tina Wong, Satinder Garcha and Nana Au-Chua share their opinions on the great debate.

From left to right: Nana Au-Chua, Elaine Lim-Chan, Satinder Garcha and Tina Wong

Nana Au-Chua
Nana Au-Chua has a clear head for business as COO of lighting company Million Lighting, but the mother of three is not for making marriage a contract.

I believe mutual love and trust are foundations of a good, lasting marriage. It means making a firm commitment to take care of each other and making necessary self-sacrifices to work things out together when faced with difficulties. Having a prenup shows an inherent lack of trust in each other and, if so, why marry in the first place?

Couples may sign a prenup if one partner has significantly more assets than the other. The prenup defines one’s entitlement in the event of divorce or separation. In my view, marriage is about total sharing and total giving—and this extends to sharing whatever one has before and during marriage.

It is not true love if one is so mindful of  demarcating what’s mine and what’s yours in a marriage. If true love exists, the financially stronger spouse will naturally want to help his or her spouse! Thus, I don’t see how a prenup is helpful when it puts the marriage on a weak footing. 

Elaine Lim-Chan

Managing Director of Deutsche Bank Wealth Management, Elaine is an optimist who believes that no task is impossible or too great as long as you try. “For every failure, there is an alternative course of action; you just have to find it,” she says.

No, a prenuptial agreement is never good for a marriage, whether it’s a marriage in an Asian or Western culture. Although it may have its merits under certain circumstances, I personally do not subscribe to this arrangement. Call me an idealist but with a prenup, the marriage, from the beginning, is destined to fail. When two people are in love and they vow “to have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish... until death do we part...”, wealth and money should never be part of the equation. Even the act of considering a prenup sets a wrong foundation for marriage from the start. It makes the marriage appear to be more like a business transaction, and because of that lack of trust and confidence, the marriage won’t go far. I believe many of the people around me share the same sentiment, as I do not find many friends with such arrangements.   

Satinder Garcha
CEO of luxury property developer Elevation Development, Satinder Garcha believes that a stable marriage is built on the foundation of mutual agreement between a couple.

There’s nothing wrong with having a prenup. The term does carry a negative connotation for many people, but any distaste for it becomes less significant if either or both parties involved have a considerable inheritance or amount of money pre-marriage. What matters more is its written content. I believe a prenup should address the treatment of three kinds of assets and who will be entitled to them, as each will be treated differently in a case of divorce.

Firstly, it needs to address inherited assets. In my opinion, these should largely go to individuals to whom it was bequeathed. Second would be assets accumulated during marriage, and which I feel should be split equally with the dissolution of a marriage. Last would be assets accumulated before marriage, which is more complex than the former two issues. A prenup should define variables such as length of marriage, as well as if and how the assets accumulated before the marriage will be divided.

Tina Wong
Tina is a senior consultant ophthalmologist at the Singapore National Eye Centre, Associate Professor at Duke-NUS, adjunct Associate Professor at NTU, and CEO of a biotech company.

Yes, I believe that prenuptial agreements can be positive for a marriage. In the “true love” argument, a prenup shows that the less wealthy partner is not simply marrying for the money. It thus proves their love is genuine and prevents any future accusations of gold-digging as the motive for the relationship. However, there is one important caveat. It must not be forgotten that the sole purpose of a prenup should be to preserve family wealth. However, if this aim is twisted to punish one’s spouse and leave them penniless should they divorce, then of course this may lead to an unequal relationship and festering resentment. It is entirely possible to meet the original objective of wealth protection, as well as include in the prenup reasonable, if not generous, provision for one’s spouse in the event of a breakdown of the marriage.

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