Can a family home be attached?
In a legal context, the term "attached" generally refers to the process of seizing or taking possession of a person's property or assets as part of a legal action or judgment to satisfy a debt or obligation. When property is "attached," it means that it is subject to being used to settle a financial claim or obligation, typically through a court-ordered sale or other legal process.
Article 153 of the Family Code of the Philippines says:
"The family home is deemed constituted on a house and lot from the time it is occupied as a family residence. From the time of its constitution and so long as any of its beneficiaries actually resides therein, the family home continues to be such and is exempt from execution, forced sale or attachment except as hereinafter provided and to the extent of the value allowed by law."
Correlative thereto, Article 155 of the same law also states that:
"The family home shall be exempt from execution, forced sale or attachment except: (1) For nonpayment of taxes; (2) For debts incurred prior to the constitution of the family home; (3) For debts secured by mortgages on the premises before or after such constitution; and (4) For debts due to laborers, mechanics, architects, builders, materialmen and others who have rendered service or furnished material for the construction of the building."
The reason for the exemption of the family home from attachment was further expounded by the Supreme Court in the case of Eulogio and Eulogio v. Bell, et al., GR 186322, July 8, 2015, where the Supreme Court, speaking through Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, stated that:
"It has been said that the family home is a real right that is gratuitous, inalienable and free from attachment. The great controlling purpose and policy of the Constitution is the protection or the preservation of the homestead — the dwelling place. A houseless, homeless population is a burden upon the energy, industry, and morals of the community to which it belongs. No greater calamity, not tainted with crime, can befall a family than to be expelled from the roof under which it has been gathered and sheltered. The family home cannot be seized by creditors except in special cases."
The policy of the Constitution is the protection and preservation of the dwelling house because a houseless or homeless population is a burden on the energy, industry, and morals of the community. For this reason, the family home cannot be attached or be subject to forced sale by the creditors, except in special cases or those instances mentioned under Article 155 of the Family Code of the Philippines.
It's important to note that the exemption of the family home from attachment is not unlimited. The value of the family home, as determined by law, should not exceed certain limits to qualify for protection. The specific value limit may vary depending on local ordinances and other factors, but it is generally intended to ensure that the protection is not abused to shield extremely valuable properties from legitimate debts.
Additionally, while the family home is protected from attachment, other properties owned by the family or individual may not enjoy the same level of protection, and they can still be subject to attachment or forced sale to satisfy certain debts or obligations.