A family home is generally exempt from execution provided that it was duly constituted as such.
Q: What is a family home?
A: A family home is a real right which is gratuitous, inalienable and free from attachment, constituted over the dwelling place and the land on which it is situated, which confers upon a particular family the right to enjoy such properties, which must remain with the person constituting it and his heirs. It cannot be seized by creditors except in certain special cases. (Ramos vs. Pangilinan, G.R. No. 185920, July 20, 2010)
Q: How is a family home constituted?
A: A family home is deemed constituted on a house and lot from the time it is occupied as a family residence. Under the Family Code, there is no need to constitute the family home judicially or extrajudicially. All family homes constructed after the effectivity of the Family Code (August 3, 1988) are constituted as such by operation of law. All existing family residences as of August 3, 1988 are considered family homes and are prospectively entitled to the benefits accorded to a family home under the Family Code. The exemption is effective from the time of the constitution of the family home as such and lasts as long as any of its beneficiaries actually resides therein. Moreover, the debts for which the family home is made answerable must have been incurred after August 3, 1988. Otherwise (that is, if it was incurred prior to August 3, 1988), the alleged family home must be shown to have been constituted either judicially or extrajudicially pursuant to the Civil Code. (Art. 153 of the Family Code; (Ramos vs. Pangilinan, G.R. No. 185920, July 20, 2010)
Q: What is the rule relative to the levy on execution over a family home?
A: A family home is generally exempt from execution provided that it was duly constituted as such. There must be proof that the alleged family home was constituted jointly by the husband and wife or by an unmarried head of a family. It must be the house where they and their family actually reside and the lot on which it is situated. The family home must be part of the properties of the absolute community or the conjugal partnership, or of the exclusive properties of either spouse with the latter’s consent, or on the property of the unmarried head of the family. The actual value of the family home shall not exceed, at the time of its constitution, the amount of P300,000 in urban areas and P200,000 in rural areas.
Q: What would make your home exempt from execution?
A: A home to be exempt from execution must have been constituted as a family home in the manner above described. For the family home to be exempt from execution, distinction must be made as to what law applies based on when it was constituted and what requirements must be complied with by the judgment debtor or his successors claiming such privilege. Hence, two sets of rules are applicable. If the family home was constructed before the effectivity of the Family Code or before August 3, 1988, then it must have been constituted either judicially or extra-judicially as provided under Articles 225, 229-231 and 233 of the Civil Code. Judicial constitution of the family home requires the filing of a verified petition before the courts and the registration of the court’s order with the Registry of Deeds of the area where the property is located. Meanwhile, extrajudicial constitution is governed by Articles 240 to 24212 of the Civil Code and involves the execution of a public instrument which must also be registered with the Registry of Property. Failure to comply with either one of these two modes of constitution will bar a judgment debtor from availing of the privilege. On the other hand, for family homes constructed after the effectivity of the Family Code on August 3, 1988, there is no need to constitute extrajudicially or judicially, and the exemption is effective from the time it was constituted and lasts as long as any of its beneficiaries under Art. 154 actually resides therein. Moreover, the family home should belong to the absolute community or conjugal partnership, or if exclusively by one spouse, its constitution must have been with consent of the other, and its value must not exceed certain amounts depending upon the area where it is located. The debts incurred for which the exemption does not apply as provided under Art. 155 for which the family home is made answerable must have been incurred after August 3, 1988.
In both cases, whether under the Civil Code or the Family Code, it is not sufficient that the person claiming exemption merely alleges that such property is a family home. This claim must be set up and proved.