Monday, October 03, 2011

Heirs and inheritance (Part 7): Is property acquired before marriage the exclusive property of each spouse or does it belong to both spouses?

Question: “I got married in 2001; some people in an online forum told me that properties acquired when I was single and titled in my name are still mine. Does my husband have any right to these properties? What will happen to these properties when I die?”

Answers:

[1] “I got married in 2001; some people in an online forum told me that properties under my name acquired when I was single are still mine.”

These people are wrong.

Most Filipinos are confused as to whether properties acquired before marriage are the exclusive property of each spouse or belong to both spouses. This confusion can be cleared up by:

  • determining what date the marriage was solemnized; if it was solemnized before August 3, 1988, then the applicable law is the New Civil Code of the Philippines, not the Family Code;
  • determining whether the man and woman, before they got married, agreed on a system of property relations that would govern them; if there was no agreement, then for marriages solemnized after August 3, 1988 (date the Family Code became effective), absolute community of property is automatically the system.
The problem is that most Filipinos get married without knowing that they can choose among absolute community of property (ACP), conjugal partnership of gains (CPG), or complete separation of property.

Since you got married in 2001 (and it seems there was no agreement between you and your husband before you got married), then absolute community of property is automatically the system between yourselves. Under Article 91 of the Family Code, upon your marriage, all properties belonging to either you or your husband automatically became part of the community property.
Art. 91. Unless otherwise provided in this Chapter or in the marriage settlements, the community property shall consist of all the property owned by the spouses at the time of the celebration of the marriage or acquired thereafter.
For example, you bought a subdivision lot while you were single. The lot is titled in your name. At the time you got married, this lot automatically became part of the community property between you and your husband, even if the title remains in your name all throughout your marriage. If you are going to sell this subdivision lot, you will need your husband’s conformity since it has become community property.

Upon your death, this lot will be distributed as follows:
  • 50% will go to your husband as his share in the community property;
  • 50% will be divided among your heirs (if you have no children and your parents or grandparents are dead, then your husband will get 25% while your brothers and sisters will divide among themselves the other 25%, under Art. 1001 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines).
[2] When are properties acquired before marriage the exclusive property of each spouse?

Exception 1:Exception 2:
If the man and woman before getting married agreed that their property relations would be governed either by conjugal partnership of gains (Articles 105 to 133 of the Family Code) or by complete separation of property (Article 143 to 146 of the Family Code).

Article 109 enumerates what the exclusive properties of each spouse are. Paragraph (1) expressly states that property “brought to the marriage as his or her own” is exclusive property.
If the marriage was solemnized before August 3, 1988 (date of effectivity of the Family Code), then properties acquired before marriage are the exclusive property of each spouse.

Why?

The New Civil Code of the Philippines was the the prevailing law before the Family Code became effective. The NCC provided that, in the absence of an agreement between the future spouses, the default system of property relations would be conjugal partnership of gains.

Related post:Heirs and inheritance (Part 8): Do inherited properties belong exclusively to the spouse who inherited them or to both spouses?

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