Understanding Property Relations Between Husband and Wife in the Philippines


           “For richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish till death do us part.” This is part of the marriage vow being recited during weddings. Being married to someone entails not only sharing one’s life but also one’s property with the other. Hence, it is very important to know the liabilities of the common properties of the spouses.  Oftentimes, one of the spouses contracts a loan and the common property will sometimes be held responsible in case the contracting spouse defaults in his obligation.  The liability of the common property will depend on the type of transaction and other factors provided by law.


               In the absence of a marriage settlement or prenuptial agreement, the provisions of the Family Code will apply with regard to the property regime of the spouses.  If the marriage was contracted before the Family Code (before 03 August 1988), then the conjugal partnership of gains (CPG) will govern. However, if the marriage was contracted after 03 August 1988, then the absolute community of property (ACP) will apply.  For this article, the author will discuss the ACP and its liabilities since the discussion on the CPG will be the subject of another article.


            Under the regime of ACP, all property owned by the spouses at the time of the celebration of the marriage or acquired thereafter shall form part of the community property.  However, property acquired during the marriage by gratuitous title, as well as the fruits and income thereof; property for exclusive or personal use of each spouse (except jewelry); and property acquired before the marriage by either spouse who has legitimate descendants by a former marriage, as well as the fruits or income thereof, are excluded from the community property.


           Anent the liability of the community property, Article 94 of The Family Code states that the ACP shall be liable for the following:


  1. 1. The support of the spouses, their common children, and legitimate children of either spouse; however, the support of illegitimate children shall be governed by the provisions of the Family Code on Support;
  2. 2. All debts and obligations contracted during the marriage by the designated administrator-spouse for the benefit of the community, or by both spouses, or by one spouse with the consent of the other;
  3. 3. Debts and obligations contracted by either spouse without the consent of the other to the extent that the family may have been benefited;
  4. 4. All taxes, liens, charges and expenses, including major or minor repairs, upon the community property;
  5. 5. All taxes and expenses for mere preservation made during marriage upon the separate property of either spouse used by the family;
  6. 6. Expenses to enable either spouse to commence or complete a professional or vocational course, or other activity for self-improvement;
  7. 7. Ante-nuptial debts of either spouse insofar as they have redounded to the benefit of the family;
  8. 8. The value of what is donated or promised by both spouses in favor of their common legitimate children for the exclusive purpose of commencing or completing a professional or vocational course or other activity for self-improvement;
  9. 9. Ante-nuptial debts of either spouse other than those falling under paragraph (7) of this Article, the support of illegitimate children of either spouse, and liabilities incurred by either spouse by reason of a crime or a quasi-delict, in case of absence or insufficiency of the exclusive property of the debtor-spouse, the payment of which shall be considered as advances to be deducted from the share of the debtor-spouse upon liquidation of the community; and
  10. 10. Expenses of litigation between the spouses unless the suit is found to be groundless


           The question frequently asked is the liability of the other spouse in case the contracting spouse sells the common property.  It would depend if the other spouse had knowledge and consent of the transaction. If the husband sold the property without the consent and knowledge of the wife, then the sale is void.  However, the transaction shall be considered as a continuing offer and may be perfected upon acceptance of the other spouse. On the other hand, if the husband sold the community property with the knowledge but without the consent of the wife, the contract is merely annullable.  The wife has 5 years from the date of the contract to go to court and seek the annulment of the contract.


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