My wife and I have been separated for about 5 years now. We are still not in good terms but I do not neglect my obligation to support our children who are in her care. Since we are not living together anymore, we don’t know about the personal dealings of each other until a collecting agent from a lending company called our office one day and demanded from me the payment of debt of my wife that she incurred when we were already separated. Am I obliged to pay that debt under the law?
It is provided under Article 91 of the Family Code that the absolute community property of the spouses or those pieces of property belonging to the spouses at the time of the celebration of the marriage or acquired thereafter shall be liable, among others, for:
(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) Debts and obligations contracted by either spouse without the consent of the other to the extent that the family may have been benefited;
You stated that your wife incurred the debt after you separated from her and that her creditor is demanding the payment thereof from you. Based on the above-stated law, your obligation in the payment of her debt is jointly and severally even if she has incurred the same when you were already separated, provided that the debt had been incurred with your consent or the same has benefited your family. Accordingly, in the case of Ayala Investment & Development Corp. V. CA and Sps. Ching, G.R. No. 118305, February 12, 1998, it was ruled that there is no actual benefit that needs to be proved if a debt is said to have been incurred for the benefit of the family as it is enough that the benefit to the family is apparent at the time of the signing of the contract. From the very nature of the contract of loan or services, the family stands to benefit from the loan facility or services to be rendered to the business or the profession. It is immaterial, if in the end, that the business or profession fails or does not succeed. If such is the case of your wife, the lending company may hold one of your pieces of property belonging to the absolute community liable for payment of the debt in the event of failure to pay thereof.
We hope that we have answered your query. Our legal opinion may vary if other facts are stated or elaborated.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org