Property Relations Between Husband and Wife

What will be my rights as owner of a condominium unit and other real property once I marry my fiance?

Your rights to the real property which you own and plan to bring into the marital partnership depend on the property relations which you and your future husband will agree on. The property relations which you and your future husband will choose will govern all the rights, responsibilities and obligations to all the property whether real or personal properties that you and your spouse will bring into the partnership. Under the Family Code of the Philippines which took effect on August 4, 1988, the couple, before the celebration of marriage, may choose and enter into a marriage settlement that they want, such as:

  1. Separation of Property
  2. Absolute Community of Property
  3. Conjugal Partnership of Gains
  4. Any other regime such as Dowry or others

However, if you and your spouse celebrated marriage without executing any marriage settlement then the system of Absolute Community of Property shall govern.

What is the system of Absolute Community of Property and how will it affect my rights to the ownership, administration of, and income that I derive from, the property that I will bring into the marriage?

The system of Absolute Community of Property requires that all property owned by the spouses at the time of the celebration of the marriage or acquired thereafter shall be considered as belonging jointly to the husband and wife, except the following:

  1. Property acquired during the marriage by gratuitous title (through donation or inheritance) by either spouse, and the fruits as well as the income thereof, if any, unless it is expressly provided by the donor, testator or grantor that they shall form part of the community property;
  2. Property for personal and exclusive use of either spouse. Jewelry shall form part of the community of property.
  3. Property acquired before the marriage by either spouse who has legitimate descendants by a former marriage and all the fruits and income, if any, of such property.

Under this system, the ownership, administration and use of the fruits (rental income and dividends) belong to the spouses jointly. In addition, sale, transfer and disposal of any of the community property shall be done with the consent of both spouses.

What is the system of Separation of Property and what are its characteristics?

In a system of Separation of Property, future husband and wife agree on complete separation of properties which may refer to present or future properties or both and it may be total or partial in which case properties not agreed upon as separate shall pertain to the absolute community.

The future husband and wife shall each remain the owner of the properties designated to each of them and shall be solely responsible for their disposition, administration and enjoyment. Earnings from the profession, business or industry of each spouse shall belong exclusively to such future spouse. However, they shall proportionately bear the family expenses, including the rearing and education of future children that may be begotten or that may be adopted during the marriage. This agreement shall be covered in a settlement agreement or ante nuptial agreement where the future spouses will have to prepare and sign before the celebration of the marriage.

What is the system of Conjugal Partnership of Gains and what are the rights, responsibilities and obligations of the spouses under this system?

In Conjugal Partnership of Gains, the husband and wife place in a common fund the proceeds, fruits and income from their separate properties and those acquired by either or both spouses through their efforts or by chance. Upon dissolution of the marriage or of the partnership, the net gains or benefits obtained by either or both spouses shall be divided equally between them, unless otherwise agreed in the marriage settlements.

The following are considered conjugal properties:

  1. Those acquired by onerous title during the marriage at the expense of the common fund, whether the acquisition be for the partnership, or for only one of the spouses;
  2. Those obtained from the labor, industry, work or profession of either or both of the spouses;
  3. The fruits, natural, industrial, or civil, due or received during the marriage from the common property, as well as the net fruits from the exclusive property of each spouse;
  4. The share of either spouse in the hidden treasure which the law awards to the finder or owner of the property where the treasure is found;
  5. Those acquired through occupation such as fishing or hunting;
  6. Livestock existing upon the dissolution of the partnership in excess of the number of each kind brought to the marriage by either spouse; and
  7. Those which are acquired by chance, such as winnings from gambling or betting. However, losses therefrom shall be borne exclusively by the loser-spouse.

The following are considered as exclusive properties or belonging solely to one of the spouses:

  1. That which is brought to the marriage as his or her own;
  2. That which each acquires during the marriage by gratuitous title;
  3. That which is acquired by right of redemption, by barter or by exchange with property belonging to only one spouse
  4. That which is purchased with the exclusive money of the wife or the husband.

With respect to disposal, sale or alienation, the general rule is that the conjugal properties cannot be alienated or sold or disposed without the consent or agreement of both husband and wife. But the exclusive property can be sold or disposed of by the owner of that property without the consent of the other spouse.

My parents were married in 1955 long before the effectivity of the Family Code on August 4, 1988. What system should govern their property relations if they had not agreed on any system in a marriage settlement?

The system of Conjugal Partnership of Gains shall govern their property relations under the New Civil code.

If my future husband and I agree on Complete Separation of Property to govern our property relations, do we need to execute any documents?

Yes. There is a need for you and your future husband to execute a settlement agreement or ante-nuptial agreement before the celebration of the marriage  showing that the system of Complete Separation of Property shall govern your property relations.

The settlement agreement to be valid and enforceable must be signed by you and your future husband before the celebration of the marriage, duly notarized and in order to prejudice third persons it must be registered with the local civil registry where the marriage contract is recorded as well as in the proper registry of property.