My girlfriend and I have been living together exclusively for almost a decade and,
throughout the length of our relationship, I have come to know that she is the one for me. Because of this realization, I have decided to give her a substantial portion of my lands through a deed of donation. Before I can fully execute my deed of donation, however, I was told by a lawyer that I cannot legally donate property to her since we have been living in together. This is what I don’t understand since while I am aware that legally married couples cannot donate property to each other, I very much doubt and question, as it makes no sense, as to why unmarried couples are also prohibited from giving donations to each other. Because of this, I would like to confirm and ask if live-in couples are in fact also prohibited from giving donations to each other. I hope for your advice. Thank you. God bless!
The answer to your query is found in the Civil Code of the Philippines, which provides rules covering donations between married couples. The law provides that:
“Art. 87. Every donation or grant of gratuitous advantage, direct or indirect, between the spouses during the marriage shall be void, except moderate gifts which the spouses may give each other on the occasion of any family rejoicing. The prohibition shall also apply to persons living together as husband and wife without a valid marriage” (Family Code of the Philippines).
As specifically detailed by this law, acts of donations between spouses are considered void, except for moderate gifts given in time of celebrations. While it can be seen that this cited law expressly prohibits donations between married couples, it must be noted that it also mentions that unmarried couples living together as husband and wife are also subject to the same prohibition. And since you mentioned that you and your girlfriend have been living together for quite some time already, this qualifies your relationship as “persons living together as husband and wife without a valid marriage.” This therefore puts your relationship with your girlfriend within the scope of the aforementioned prohibition against donations between unmarried couples.
Because of this prohibition, your donations to your girlfriend shall be considered void and without legal effect even with an executed deed of donation. Furthermore, it is important for you to know that donations executed in contravention of this statutory prohibition can be questioned by any affected party or person having rights to the donated property (Harding v. Commercial Union Assurance Co., 38 Phil 464). Thus, by express provision of the law, it is correct to say that you cannot donate property to your live-in partner.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
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