My boyfriend and I finally broke up last month after three years. Although we did not live together, I would like to know if he can take back the supposed engagement ring that he had given me. According to my friends, the ring costs thousands of pesos.
It is unfortunate to hear that your relationship with your boyfriend has ended. Whatever the reason may be for the break-up, perhaps this is an indication that you were not really meant for each other, despite the fact that you were already engaged.
Insofar as your question is concerned, giving of gifts of any value without asking for anything in return is a donation. As defined, donation is an act of liberality whereby a person disposes gratuitously of a thing or right in favor of another, who accepts it (Article 75, New Civil Code of the Philippines).
In the same vein, a donation of movable property may be done orally, provided that it is accompanied by the delivery of the thing donated. If the value of the thing donated, however, is more than five thousand (5,000) pesos, the donation must be in writing as well as the acceptance, otherwise, the same is null and void. This is explicitly provided by Article 748 of the New Civil Code, which reads:
“Art. 748. The donation of a movable may be made orally or in writing.
An oral donation requires the simultaneous delivery of the thing or of the document representing the right donated.
If the value of the personal property donated exceeds five thousand pesos, the donation and the acceptance shall be made in writing, otherwise, the donation shall be void.”
The foregoing considered, the validity of the donation would depend on the value of the property donated. If the value of the ring that was given to you by your former boyfriend is more than five thousand pesos (P5,000.00), which is not in writing, it is a void donation. As such, he may recover the same from you. Had it been in writing, the same may be considered valid. Nevertheless, the donation may be revoked considering that the deed of donation was made in consideration of the marriage but the celebration thereof never took place.
The Family Code of the Philippines enumerates the situations when a donation by reason of marriage may be revoked:
“Art. 86. A donation by reason of marriage may be revoked by the donor in the following cases:
(1) If the marriage is not celebrated or judicially declared void ab initio except donations made in the marriage settlements, which shall be governed by Article 81;
(2) When the marriage takes place without the consent of the parents or guardian, as required by law;
(3) When the marriage is annulled, and the donee acted in bad faith;
(4) Upon legal separation, the donee being the guilty spouse;
(5) If it is with a resolutory condition and the condition is complied with;
(6) When the donee has committed an act of ingratitude as specified by the provisions of the Civil Code on donations in general.”
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