Marriages are supposed to be filled with love and happiness, but what happens when relationships sour, and divorce is the only reasonable solution? For those who want to protect their financial assets in the event of a divorce, or death, one option is signing a prenuptial agreement, or prenup, detailing how a couple's finances are to be handled under such circumstances. 'It is getting more common in Hong Kong. I guess people are more worried about getting a divorce,' says Sylvia Siu, chairwoman of the Board of Governors at the Hong Kong Mediation Centre. 'When the marriage ends, money is a big problem.' She says it is becoming more common for couples in other countries to think, before they get married, about how they would like matters to end should they divorce. Wendy Lam, a lawyer specialising in family law at Stevenson, Wong & Co, says that last year, some 16,000 couples filed for divorce in Hong Kong, and that by last month, 10,000 local couples had already filed for divorce. The increase in couples seeking information on prenuptial agreements is not surprising, she says. Discussing prenups is often a romance killer, and Siu says that, in the past, Chinese people considered it bad luck for an engaged couple to discuss divorce. However, people are becoming more open to Western practices, and most want to protect their wealth. 'It's much better to be frank. They should be able to raise the issue of a prenup,' Siu says. 'A marriage is about family. It's wrong to think it's only between two persons - there are also in-laws, siblings [and so on]. We have extended family units in Hong Kong and if you have a rich uncle or aunt, they may have a say [in your marriage because they may be] worried that your potential spouse is marrying you for your inheritance.' She explains that such agreements are not automatically enforceable by courts here, as they don't come under Hong Kong law. However, they may become so in the future and, therefore, couples should consider signing prenups before marriage, Siu says. Another reason getting a prenup may be prudent is the possibility of moving to other countries where prenups are enforceable by courts. Lam agrees that prenups are becoming more common in Hong Kong. 'We have arranged more prenuptial agreements in the last couple of years. We used to advise against it because in Hong Kong, it's unenforceable,' she says. She says there has been talk about laws here being updated to recognise prenups, but that her firm could not wait until that happens to offer couples the service. Contrary to what some believe, Lam says an even number of men and women ask for prenups. Should everyone get a prenuptial agreement? 'It depends on the circumstances and their asset levels before marriage. When people talk about prenups, they are high-income earners, or have assets of some worth that they want to maintain,' Lam says. The cost of prenups varies, depending on the couple's circumstances, Lam says. 'We recommend disclosure of assets, which is a sensitive area. This may involve seeking legal advice from other countries, which could be costly.' For engaged couples who want to play it safe, Lam recommends they have a frank talk about the subject before visiting a lawyer. 'Usually, clients discuss the topic before coming to us. They just want to define the formula, if any unfortunate events were to happen.'