“Married to” appearing in Land Titles
You may have come across transfer certificates of titles, also known as Torrens titles, and noticed that the property owner’s name is sometimes listed as “Juan dela Cruz married to Juana dela Cruz”, while other times it’s listed as “Spouses Juan dela Cruz and Juana dela Cruz”. If you believe these two designations are identical or convey the same meaning, you are mistaken.
The name of the titled owner is specified in the transfer certificate of title itself. This name is often considered conclusive proof of property ownership by the individual whose name is listed.
According to Section 45 of Presidential Decree No. 1529, if the property is part of the conjugal partnership, the certificate of title must be issued in the names of both spouses. The said provision states:
“SEC. 45. Statement of personal circumstances in the certificate. – Every certificate of title shall set forth the full names of all the persons whose interests make up the full ownership in the whole land, including their civil status, and the names of their respective spouses, if married, as well as their citizenship, residence and postal address. If the property covered belongs to the conjugal partnership, it shall be issued in the names of both spouses.” [Emphasis and underscoring supplied.]
Therefore, if the title is only in the name of the husband or wife, it can be legally presumed that the property covered is the exclusive and private property of the spouse named.
This distinction is crucial because it directly affects the rights and obligations associated with the property. For instance, in the event of a legal dispute or the sale of the property, the way the owner’s name is listed on the title can have significant implications.
Legal Implications of the phrase “Married to” in Land Titles
In essence, the way a property owner’s name is listed on a transfer certificate of title is not merely a matter of semantics or preference. It has legal implications and can affect the ownership rights of the spouses. Therefore, it’s essential to understand these nuances when dealing with property titles.
In line with the foregoing, recent Supreme Court decisions hold that the registration of a property utilizing the phrase “married to” is merely descriptive of the civil status of the said person. It simply means that the person, who owns the property, is married to the other person, whose name follows the “married to” phrase. Thus, it was held:
“It must be stressed that the certificate of title upon which petitioner anchors her claim is inadequate. The fact that the land was registered in the name of “Eusebio Francisco, married to Teresita Francisco”, is no proof that the property was acquired during the spouses coverture. Acquisition of title and registration thereof are two different acts. It is well settled that registration does not confer title but merely confirms one already existing. The phrase “married to” preceding “Teresita Francisco” is merely descriptive of the civil status of Eusebio Francisco.” [Emphasis and underscoring supplied.]
Also in the case of Metrobank, et al. v. Jose Tan, et al., G.R. No. 163712, 30 November 2006, the Court ruled:
“The lack of consent to the mortgage covering the title in question would not render the encumbrance void under the second paragraph of Article 124 of the Family Code. For proof is wanting that the property covered by the title is conjugal – that it was acquired during respondents’ marriage which is what would give rise to the presumption that it is conjugal property. (Article 116, F.C.). The statement in the title that the property is “registered in accordance with the provisions of Section 103 of the Property Registration Decree in the name of JOSE B. TAN, of legal age, married to Eliza Go Tan does not prove or indicate that the property is conjugal. In Ruiz v. CA, G.R. No. 146942, April 22, 2003, 401 SCRA 410, it was ruled that the phrase “married to “ is merely descriptive of the civil status of a person and should not be construed to mean that the spouse is also a registered owner. Furthermore, registration of the property is not proof that such property was acquired during the marriage, and thus, is presumed to be conjugal. The property could have been acquired by a spouse while he was still single, and registered only after the marriage. Acquisition of title and registration thereof are two different acts. The presumption under Article 116 of the Family Code that properties acquired during the marriage are presumed to be conjugal cannot apply in the instant case. Before such presumption can apply, it must first be established that the property was in fact acquired during the marriage. In other words, proof of acquisition during the marriage is a condition sine qua non for the operation of the presumption in favor of conjugal ownership. No such proof was offered nor presented in the case at bar.”
Finally, in the case of Heirs of Nicolas Jugalbot, represented by Leonila B. Jugalbot vs. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 170346, 12 March 2007, the Supreme Court decided that:
“Spouses Estonina v. Court of Appeals held that the presumption under civil law that all property of the marriage belongs to the conjugal partnership applies only when there is proof that the property was acquired during the marriage. Otherwise stated, proof of acquisition during the marriage is a condition sine qua non for the operation of the presumption in favor of the conjugal partnership. In Spouses Estonina, petitioners were unable to present any proof that the property in question was acquired during the marriage of Santiago and Consuelo Garcia. The fact that when the title over the land in question was issued, Santiago Garcia was already married to Consuelo as evidenced by the registration in the name of “Santiago Garcia married to Consuelo Gaza,” does not suffice to establish the conjugal nature of the property.
In the instant case, the Court of Appeals correctly held that the phrase “married to” appearing in certificates of title is no proof that the properties were acquired during the spouses’ coverture and are merely descriptive of the marital status of the person indicated therein. The clear import from the certificate of title is that Virginia is the owner of the property, the same having been registered in her name alone, and being “married to Pedro N. Roa” was merely descriptive of her civil status. Since no proof was adduced that the property was acquired during the marriage of Pedro and Virginia Roa, the fact that when the title over the land in question was issued, Virginia Roa was already married to Pedro N. Roa as evidenced by the registration in the name of “Virginia A. Roa married to Pedro N. Roa,” does not suffice to establish the conjugal nature of the property.”
Furthermore, in one case, the Supreme Court suggested that it would be the better rule that if the property registered under the Torrens system is conjugal, the certificate of title should have been issued in the name of both husband and wife, instead of only one of them with the name of the other spouse merely forming part of what may be regarded as descriptive of the civil status of the registered owner.
About Nicolas and De Vega Law Offices
If you need help regarding any questions or concerns regarding family law, we can help you. Nicolas and De Vega Law Offices is a full-service law firm in the Philippines. You may visit us at the 16th Flr., Suite 1607 AIC Burgundy Empire Tower, ADB Ave., Ortigas Center, 1605 Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines. You may also call us at +632 84706126, +632 84706130, +632 84016392 or e-mail us at email@example.com. Visit our website https://ndvlaw.com/.
 Francisco vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 102330, 25 November 1998.
 Mata de Stuart vs. Yatco, 114 Phil. 1083; Gazmin vs. Austria, 65 O.G. 51, 22 December 1969.