Property Ownership Before and During Marriage, and After Separation
Updated: Mar 11, 2020
Conjugal Partnership of Gains of Properties dictates that properties acquired before the union are exclusively that of the buyer, where any property purchased or built by the husband during his singlehood is exclusively his. For recent and future marriages, Absolute Community of Property is applied, where any property purchased and/or built by a husband when still single, is eventually also owned by his wife upon marriage.
Ask almost any married Filipino, and they’ll almost always admit how marriage has been one of the most significant life changes they have ever experienced, both in a beneficial and in a challenging capacity. Almost everything is shared within a couple’s union, from hopes and dreams to time and affection, and yes, finances and property.
Property ownership has always been a complex endeavor, and it becomes a little more extensive when under the circumstances of marriage. Among the common questions which arise are how does marital status affect ownership? Will property purchased during singlehood be considered conjugal after marriage? Can a property be sold or transferred without the spouse’s knowledge or consent?
There are two property regimes which owners, sellers, and even buyers can refer to get a general idea of marital status affects property ownership and have some of their queries answered.
Conjugal Partnership of Gains
Applying to marriages which took place before August 3, 1988, Conjugal Partnership of Gains dictates that properties acquired before the union are exclusively that of the buyer, where any property purchased or built by the husband during his singlehood is exclusively his. The same circumstances, of course, also applies to the wife, where property acquired when she was single are also hers as well.
However, upon being married, the couple’s properties are joined together as one estate, and any income or other benefits generated by it is considered shared. The same goes for properties acquired during marriage.
Should the union end and the couple files for legal separation or annulment, the properties purchased before marriage go back to being solely owned by the respective original owners. The husband or the wife can also freely dispose any of his/her exclusive properties acquired prior to marriage without any consent from the estranged party.
Anything earned from by the now separated estate is also no longer considered conjugal and is divided equally between the separating parties. The same equal division is done to the properties acquired during marriage, as they are considered conjugal, and mutual consent is required for their disposal.
Absolute Community of Property
Executive Code No. 209, or the Family Code of the Philippines, was signed into law by then-President Corazon Aquino on July 6, 1987. It states that for couples married on or any time after August 3, 1988, all properties acquired before or during the union are automatically considered conjugal properties upon marriage.
Under the Absolute Community of Property section of the code, all properties, whether acquired before or during marriage, are considered conjugal. Hence, any property purchased and/or built by a husband when still single is eventually considered conjugal and also owned by his wife upon marriage. Similarly, any property acquired by a wife when she was single also becomes owned by her husband upon marriage. In the event of legal that a couple covered by Absolute Community of Property files for a legal separation or annulment, their conjugal properties are divided equally among them.
For recent and future marriages, the obvious regime which applies is the Absolute Community of Property. While the provision of property exclusivity is notably absent in the regime, future husbands and wives can still exercise their right to maintain separate ownership of their properties by way of a prenuptial agreement or prenup.
As the name attests, the marriage settlement is agreed upon before the union and is a way to specify which, if not all, of a husband and a wife’s properties, are owned separately.
This keeping of the division of assets is not only beneficial should a couple separate and wants to do so as amicably as possible, but is also advantageous in property transactions. By entering a prenup that maintains separate ownership even during marriage, husbands or wives get to remain as the sole administrators of their respective properties and are able to sell it or enter it in commercial or lease contracts without the consent of their spouse.
To ensure a prenup’s validity, the prenup must, of course, be executed prior to the marriage, completed in writing and signed in the presence of an attorney.
If you are intent on getting married in the future, it is recommended to discuss the possibility of having a prenup as early on in your relationship or engagement as possible, and consult with a lawyer for detailed information and to best understand the options available to you and your future spouse, as well as ensure that all requirements are met when finally file for the prenup.