While marriage is all fairy tale magic and happily-ever-afters, you mustn’t forget that marriage is also a legal contract, a fact many couples don’t initially acknowledge. There are many legal rights and obligations that accompany getting married in Singapore. Any lifelong contract merits some research and understanding; here is what you should know about your legal rights when tying the knot

Basic Legal Definition Of Marriage in Singapore

The basic definition of a civil marriage in Singapore is a union of two people, where one or both parties are non-Muslim, after obtaining the proper license from the Registry of Marriage (ROM) and taking part in a solemnisation ceremony.

There are also Muslim marriages, which take place when both partners are Muslim. When applying for a Muslim marriage you must register with the Registry of Muslim Marriages (ROMM) where you will be married according to the Administration of Muslim Law Act (AMLA).

Before saying ‘I do,’ couples should know the legal rights they obtain after making it official. Prenuptial agreements, and splitting assets before a marriage is one way in which you can change the rights – defined by Singapore law – before tying the knot.  Other rights and benefits of becoming married include tax, inheritance, estate planning and other sometimes advantageous legal rights.

What Rights Do You Gain when you get married in Singapore?

Newly married couples can look towards numerous tax benefits, mortgage options and other ways to improve their situation or use their newfound rights.

Here are some immediate rights you should be aware of when marrying in Singapore:

1. Tax Benefits:
The ability to file joint taxes can give you a variety of tax breaks or incentives, especially if you’re a foreigner conducting business in Singapore.

Be sure to consult a local tax advisor to ensure that you are maximising these sometimes financial benefits. One new tax benefit offered to married couples in Singapore is a $2,000 spouse relief. This credit can be claimed if one spouse does have an annual income of more than $4,000 per year.  As Singapore continues to offer incentives to young families tax benefits are expected to continue to increase

2. Baby Benefits:
Since 2010, the Singapore government has been putting in place efforts to persuade citizens to marry and start families. Baby bonuses, baby health care coverage, and fertility treatments for couples trying to conceive are just a few of the rights given to couples.

3. Employee Benefits:
Most employers will allow your spouse to obtain health coverage through your existing plan. If your spouse becomes ill, you will be given a defined leave period by your employer.  Other benefits, such as employee discounts or health management may become available to your spouse via your employer. For example, married women are eligible to take up to 8 weeks of paid maternity leave if they have been with their employer for at least 3 months.

4. Estate Planning Benefits:
Inheritance rights become much less complicated when you become married, and you will instantly gain more rights compared to your pre-marriage days.

Nice Benefits – Where Is The Responsibility?

Any marriage is a tremendous responsibility for both parties, but what legal rights or responsibilities come along with your marriage ceremony?

Although the responsibilities vary slightly by state, they generally include being responsible for financially supporting any children in the marriage.  Another common responsibility is a liability for certain kinds of family expenses, such as medical costs.

Unless a prenuptial agreement is in place, a marriage is also an agreement to share property and financial resources, which can drastically change your financial rights if you enter into a marriage with existing assets.

After the wedding party, it may be time to find out your rights and complete any paperwork that will allow you to use some of your newfound rights, or take care of your responsibilities.

Changing your name, updating bank accounts, and estate planning documents are good places to start.  Now that you have made a commitment to your spouse for a lifetime make another commitment to each other to know your legal rights and exercise them accordingly and to your best advantage.

Here are more considerations before you get married:
4 Financial Discussions You Should Have Before Getting Married
Should You Have Joint Or Separate Bank Accounts?

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C.E.O @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is passionate about finance, education, women empowerment and children’s issues. Anna has been featured in CNBC, Forbes, The Straits Times, Business Insider, INC and The Peak Singapore. She was nominated and selected for FORTUNE Most Powerful Women conference in 2016 (Asia) and 2015 (San Francisco, Next Gen). Anna has 10 years of experience in the financial sector and is currently a Director in Tera Capital. Her previous work experience includes positions at Citigroup, United Overseas Bank, a regional role in Business Monitor and a boutique private equity firm based in Shanghai. She graduated from Singapore Management University (Finance and Quantitative Finance).