Allan and I have been living together for almost six years now. Lately, we had been quarreling even about small matters and he began treating me badly. I informed him of my plan to live separately but he disagreed and tried to get all the titles of the pieces of property that we had acquired. Last week, his estranged legal wife appeared and tried to claim the pieces of property, saying all of them belonged to Allan. I heard from a friend that assets acquired by live-in partners shall be owned by them equally. Is this true?
The statement of your friend that pieces of property acquired by live-in partners are owned by them in equal shares is partly correct. That statement is correct provided the live-in partners are capacitated to marry each other or there is no legal impediment for them to get married and they live exclusively with each other as husband and wife. This is supported by the provision of Article 147 of the Family Code of the Philippines, which states:
“When a man and a woman who are capacitated to marry each other, live exclusively with each other as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or under a void marriage, their wages and salaries shall be owned by them in equal shares and the property acquired by both of them through their work or industry shall be governed by the rules on co-ownership.
“In the absence of proof to the contrary, properties acquired while they lived together shall be presumed to have been obtained by their joint efforts, work or industry, and shall be owned by them in equal shares. For purposes of this article, a party who did not participate in the acquisition by the other of any property shall be deemed to have contributed jointly in the acquisition thereof if the former’s effort consisted in the care and maintenance of the family and of the household.
Xxx xxx xxx
Xxx xxx xxx”.
The above-mentioned provision of the law, however, does not apply to your situation because Allan is legally married, hence, he is not capacitated to marry. Nonetheless, the claim of his legal wife that he owns all the pieces of property acquired has no legal basis. In fact, Article 148 of the same code explicitly provides:
“In cases of cohabitation not falling under the preceding article, only the properties acquired by both of the parties through their actual joint contribution of money, property or industry shall be owned by them in proportion to their respective contributions. In the absence of proof to the contrary, their contributions and corresponding shares are presumed to be equal. The same rule and presumption shall apply to joint deposits of money and evidences of credit.
“If one of the parties is validly married to another, his or her share in the co-ownership shall accrue to the absolute community or conjugal partnership existing in such valid marriage. Xxx”.
Applying this provision to your case, the live-in partners own the pieces of property in proportion to their actual joint contribution or equal sharing if there is no proof of contribution. Allan’s share in the pieces of property acquired during his cohabitation with you shall belong to the absolute community or conjugal partnership.
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed 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