Property Ownership | Before, During and After Marriage

How does the change in marital status affect property ownership?  Will property acquired or purchased before marriage be considered conjugal property after marriage? Can a spouse sell or transfer property ownership without the consent or knowledge of the other? To answer those questions, the two property regimes can guide owners, sellers, and buyers how marital status plays a big role in property ownership.  

Conjugal Partnership of Gains

In a Conjugal partnership of gains, the conjugal property is the income or property generated by both spouses during the marriage. Each partner’s separate property remains theirs. It was the default marriage regime before Aug 3, 1988 and comes into effect when the marriage was celebrated.

Upon marriage, the property of the couple will become one estate & all income generated by these properties will be conjugal. Should the couple file for legal separation, the properties purchased before marriage goes back to the original owners with the right to freely dispose of his exclusive properties & any future earnings from that property are no longer conjugal.

Absolute Community of Property

Family Code of the Philippines, Executive Code No. 209, signed into law by then-President Corazon Aquino states that all properties acquired before or during the marriage will automatically be considered conjugal properties for those who got married on or after August 3, 1988.

The husband and the wife are considered as co-owners of all properties they bring into the marriage (those that they owned before the marriage), as well as the properties acquired during the marriage, except for certain properties express excluded by law. The rules on co-ownership applies in all matters not provided under the Family Code.

In the absence of prenuptial agreement, this is the default system that will be followed unless a prenuptial agreement makes this null and void. Should the couple file for legal separation, all the properties acquired/purchased before marriage will be equally divided.

Can a spouse sell or transfer property ownership without the consent or knowledge of the other?

Unless there is prenuptial agreement prior to the marriage that states any property acquired, inherited or purchased before marriage remains under the ownership of the original owner a spouse can’t sell that property without consent.

In the case of separation, only under legal separation or annulment can the other spouse sell his or her share of the property.

How I can protect the properties I have inherited or purchased before marriage?

Individuals can exercise their right to separate property ownership by way of a prenuptial agreement before getting married. Only through the prenuptial agreement can separate ownership during the marriage be maintained, remain as the sole administrators of these properties, and sell, donate, or lease it without the consent of their spouse.

I am planning to buy this property that belongs to a married couple, what should I ask?

Ask for proper documents that include property title that has both the names of the couple in it and Marriage Certificate as well. If one of the spouse is deceased, a Death Certificate may be needed also. And if the couple is legally separated, a Certificate of Finality should be presented and the name in the property title should only reflect one of the spouse’s names. This means that in the event of the legal separation, the property of interest has been legally given/handed to one of the spouses. If the couple has separated but not in legal terms, the spouse should be present or give consent in selling the property of interest.