To what extent are pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements binding?

Singapore law does not treat pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements as being automatically binding. Spouses may challenge such agreements, as these are subject to the scrutiny of the court, to determine whether and to what extent pre- and post-nuptial agreements are enforceable.

Singapore courts have long held that pre-nuptial agreements that enable a spouse to negate a marriage and its legal obligations are against public policy and unenforceable. However, agreements that regulate marital relations (for example, dictating how the couple should live and conduct themselves as spouses in line with Chinese customary practices) are not invalid. 

The courts have jurisdiction to review and vary agreements relating to maintenance and custody. When exercising powers to divide marital assets, the court must have regard to any agreement between the parties regarding the ownership and division of matrimonial assets made in contemplation of a divorce.

A pre- or post-nuptial agreement cannot be enforced in and of itself. Such an agreement is just one of the factors considered by the court in exercising its power to divide the matrimonial assets. A valid agreement will, to the extent that it is considered relevant, be reflected in an order of the court. Such an agreement cannot exclude the jurisdiction of the court.