Monday, August 13, 2007

Family Code of the Philippines: Primer on the property relations between husband and wife

Articles 74 up to 148 from Title IV of the Family Code are the governing laws on the property relations between husband and wife. (Note: Article 111 of the Family Code has been amended by RA 10572.)

What governs the property relationship between husband and wife?

Article 74 provides that the property relationship between husband and wife are governed in the following order:

1. By marriage settlements executed before the marriage;

2. By the provisions of this Code; and

3. By the local custom.

What are the property regimes that may be agreed upon by the future spouses?

The future spouses may, in the marriage settlements, agree upon the (1) regime of absolute community, (2) conjugal partnership of gains, (3) complete separation of property, or (4) any other regime.

In the absence of a marriage settlement, or when the regime agreed upon is void, the system of absolute community of property as established in this Code will govern. (Art. 75)

Can modifications be made to the marriage settlements?

Art. 76 provides that in order that any modification in the marriage settlements may be valid, it must be made before the celebration of the marriage, subject to the provisions of Articles 66, 67, 128, 135 and 136.

Art. 77 further provides that the marriage settlements and any modification thereof must be in writing, signed by the parties and executed before the celebration of the marriage. They will not prejudice third persons unless they are registered in the local civil registry where the marriage contract is recorded as well as in the proper registries of properties.

What about minors and marriage settlements?

A minor who according to law may contract marriage may also execute his or her marriage settlements, but they are valid only if the persons designated in Article 14 to give consent to the marriage are made parties to the agreement, subject to the provisions of Title IX of the Family Code. (Art. 78.)

What if one of the future spouses was sentenced in a criminal case and the sentence carries with it civil interdiction (prohibition from exercising certain civil and political rights)?

Art. 79 provides that for the validity of any marriage settlement executed by a person upon whom a sentence of civil interdiction has been pronounced or who is subject to any other disability, it is indispensable for the guardian appointed by a competent court to be made a party.

What governs the property relations of spouses?

In the absence of a contrary stipulation in a marriage settlement, the property relations of the spouses are governed by Philippine laws, regardless of the place of the celebration of the marriage and their residence. (Art. 80.)

Are there exceptions?

Art. 80 provides that the rule does not apply:

(1) Where both spouses are aliens;

(2) With respect to the extrinsic validity of contracts affecting property not situated in the Philippines and executed in the country where the property is located; and

(3) With respect to the extrinsic validity of contracts entered into in the Philippines but affecting property situated in a foreign country whose laws require different formalities for its extrinsic validity.

What if the marriage does not push through?

Everything stipulated in the settlements or contracts referred to in the preceding articles in consideration of a future marriage, including donations between the prospective spouses made therein, are rendered void if the marriage does not take place. But stipulations that do not depend upon the celebration of the marriages shall be valid. (Art. 81)