Postnuptial Agreements in Indonesia

Thursday, 07 August 2008 21:45


Postnuptial agreements, also known as post-marital agreements, are agreements entered into after a marriage has taken place. There are many reasons why a mixed-marriage couple might wish to draw-up a postnuptial agreement. Among others, a couple that did not sign a prenuptial agreement before marriage may later determine that they want to have some sort of financial plan in place in the event of death or divorce. Additionally, a major change in the financial circumstances of the couple, such as a major career change or inheritance, may alter the financial landscape, requiring a change to the terms of the couple's existing prenuptial agreement to reflect their current wishes, like simple thing as the intention of owning property in Indonesia.

Indonesias 1974 Marriage Law only recognises prenuptial agreements, ("prenup" for short), a written contract created by two people before they are married. The 1974 enacted law only discussing the matrimonial agreement that must be drawn-up prior to marriage. Indeed, the law regarding the validity and enforcement of post-marital agreements is not well developed in Indonesia. But if we dig a little bit deeper, Indonesian Civil Code provides special provision concerning property division in the course of marriage. The postnup is a product of our ancient Civil Code. Its been there for many decades. So, some couples have been using it all along. It just the postnup is not as popular as his other sibling, the prenup. As to my personal opinion, the postnup is like a wine. Its being kept in the dark, until they mature enough into something you would like to have dinner with. 

Whats Postnup?

First of all, postnup is not a back-dated prenup. It is signed and dated after your marriage. When youre married, youre married. Theres no way you can turn the clock around and get a prenup, or even back-date a prenup. Thats awful, and illegal of course! The harsh reality is that the courts tend to assume that a prenup is always valid, but they have the opposite reaction to the back-dated prenup. The assumption is, in the majority of cases, that this type of agreement is not valid.

You cant find a postnup in the 1974 Marriage Law. Its not there. Nevertheless, just because the Marriage Law didnt say anything about the postnup, it doesnt mean its not legal. Its in the Civil Code. This is can be the ultimate solution for mixed-couples in Indonesia who did not sign a prenuptial agreement before their marriage. This also may preserve the rights of the Indonesian to own property in Indonesia even though they are married to a foreigner. 

The postnuptial agreement, may be useful to couples seeking to enter into a postmarital agreement after a significant financial change or a period of marital conflict. It is signed and entered into in contemplation of an existing, ongoing, and viable marriage. This agreement allows married couples to legally pre-determine how property will be divided if the couple divorces.

The postnup creates property separation in your marriage since the signing date, and therefore the community property regime shall not exist any further. As for the property exist prior to the postnup, you need to determine them. It means that it has to be separated as well. You need to appoint one spouse as the property holder. 

Nevertheless, please take a note that signing a postnup is not the only phase required to create separation of property during the course of your marriage. Your Indonesian lawyer needs to work on other legal issues such as taking prior-legal-measures to make sure the legality of the postnup before signed by husband and wife.

Legal Implications of the Postnup

Legal implications will occur due to property division in the course of marriage to the parties in the postnup (i.e. husband and wife), to the property in the marriage, and other related third party. Both husband and wife shall be bound by the legal binding force as affected by the Postnup. As it is a legally binding contract, therefore it shall serve as the law between both contracting parties; husband and wife. This is in line with Article 1338 of Civil Code stipulating that: All the contracts legally drafted shall serves as the law to the parties involved.” 

The postnup also take effect to the third party. The further implementation in regards to creditors, it must be specified according to the time frame. The community property shall be liable as collateral in the event the mortgage exist prior to the postnup date. On the other hand, if one spouse getting a loan from a bank after the postnup date, his/her separate assets shall be in liability to any debts he/she might have created. 

Postnup for Mixed-Marriage Couples

In accordance with Article 186 (1) of Indonesian Civil Code, the wife may, in the course of marriage, request a division of assets, in the following circumstances: "...wife is in imminent danger of losing the security of her dowry and her entitlements pursuant to the law.., and also if ... in the management of the community property, such property might be endangered." This is totally applicable to the circumstances in every no-prenup mixed-marriage household in Indonesia. By marrying a foreigner, the Indonesian spouse will be precluded to own a property, which is her/his right as an Indonesian citizen. Her/his entitlements in owning a property in Indonesia may be endangered. 

There are many mixed-marriage couples in Indonesia that did not incorporate a prenuptial agreement prior to their marriage. In the absence of a prenuptial agreement, by law, their marriage has joint property regime because the Marriage Law automatically assuming joint property regime within their marriage. This means either of you would require consent from the other for every transaction involving the immovable property in Indonesia. The implementation of consent if to co-sign of every transaction documents. In terms of mixed-marriage, such consent cannot be retrieved from the foreign spouse because a foreigner is now allowed to own property in Indonesia. An Indonesian will not be able to retrieve such consent from her spouse because he is not in the legal position to own the property in the first place. So, the Indonesian position is stuck. This is where a prenup is essentials. 

Since there are too many mixed-couples out there without a prenup, then a postnup may be used as one of the options. Writing a postnup, just because you didnt have a prenup, is not some business they see every day. Instead of getting a silly back-dated prenup, I certainly think the postnup is legally worth a shot. They can get a postnup. 

The postnuptial agreements most often used to settle financial matters, including property ownership in mixed-marriage. The postnup is very useful when spouses failed to create a prenuptial but want to protect their assets. It is not something usual in Indonesia because the law thinks that you shouldve get the prenup in the first place. Therefore, requirements to get a postnup are stricter than getting a prenup. The contract must be created with full disclosure of assets, be entered voluntarily by both parties, and have terms that are fair and equitable.

Why Should You get the Postnup?

Because it is dated after your marriage, and because it is legal. The postnup is about admitting that you did not realize that you need a prenup in order to own property in Indonesia right before you got marry to a foreigner. Its about being honest to yourself, and to the public institution where the postnup will be registered. Back-dated prenup is about manipulating facts of your marriage date, and the date when you sign the prenup.

Postnup is the most favorable choice for the limbo situation of having no prenup in the first place. Some mixed-marriage couples have resorted to questionable measures, such as making purchases using fake ID cards, or risky purchases, such as buying real property using their relativesname. You may be trust them, but trust is not the only issue here.

The postnup is about making sure that you control your own property without have to rely on someone elses mood. You have the power and the authority in making the purchase without affected by the legal constraints anymore. Sounds good, huh? 

Whats Your Marriage Like after the Postnup?

The postnup serves as the law for both contracting parties; husband and wife. After both of you signed the postnup, the property shall be separated since the date of the postnup takes effect legally.

Each and every spouse in your matrimony shall be independent and will not require any consent from the other spouse, including to conduct property transactions. The best part is the Indonesian spouse will no longer affected by his/her foreign spouse. There you have it! The rights of an Indonesian in owning the property is preserved as if you had a prenup in the beginning of your marriage.

Reinstatement of the Community Property

This is the proceedings if you want to go back to the joint property regime, because may be, the laws have changed. For example, the Indonesian is no longer affected by getting married to a foreigner in owning any property in Indonesia. 

In the event where community property is reinstated, matters relating thereto shall be afforded the same status as that applicable prior to separation, without prejudice to the result of acts carried out by the wife which took place in the interim between separation and reinstatement. Agreement providing for reinstatement of community property by the spouses for any reasons other than those already specified shall be deemed void. 

The community property which is dissolved by separation of assets may be reinstated with the consent of the spouses. The reinstatement of community property must be made public by the spouses. Third parties shall not be affected by the reinstatement until the public announcement has been made. 


Our thanks to Asep Wijaya, Managing Director of Wijaya & Co for sharing this information with us!


My name is Asep Wijaya. I am an attorney. This article is about my works in the field of law I have been doing regarding legal issues in international civil law in Indonesia. You may use my articles without permission as long as you mention my name, the article tile, and our website address.

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