Husband and wife can’t legally donate property to each other

Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,     
My Tito and Tita are celebrating their silver wedding anniversary. In their celebration, my Tito donated a vacation house in the province to my Tita as a grand gesture of love, and as a gift to her. In processing this donation, my Tito was informed by someone close to him that he cannot donate such property to my Tita since it is illegal.

Is this true? Is there really any law prohibiting my Tito to donate a property to my Tita even though they are validly married? Can my Tito’s gift of donation to his wife be questioned? And if so, are there any exceptions to this rule? Thank you for any advice. God bless!

Dear Cris,
In the law of property relations between husband and wife, particularly on the subject of donations between married couples, there is a specific provision that prohibits donation between husband and wife. According to Article 87 of the Family Code of the Philippines:

“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 to 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.” (Emphasis supplied)

As specifically stated by this law, acts of donations between spouses are considered void. Thus, since your Tito and Tita are married couple, they cannot legally donate pieces of property to each other.

The exception to this prohibition is for donations of moderate gifts given in time of celebrations. In your situation, while your Tito decided to donate to your Tita a vacation house to celebrate their wedding anniversary, the nature and value of the gift involved is material in considering whether it can be legal. This is because the exception for donation between married couple applies only to moderate gifts; and giving a vacation house is hardly a moderate gift. In fact, it can be considered as a substantially extravagant gift. As such, it is still within the ambit of the prohibition on the donation between spouses.

Because of this prohibition, the donation of your Tito to your Tita 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 to this statutory prohibition can be questioned by any affected party or person having rights on the donated property. (Harding v. Commercial Union Assurance Co., 38 Phil 464) Thus, by express provision of the law, your Tito cannot donate such property to his wife.

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


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1 Comment

  1. Winnielyn gabuyo on

    Dear Pao
    Gusto ko po sanang magtanung kung may habol ako sa property namin dati ng asawa ko kahit hindi po kami kasal kc nakipaghiwalay po ako sa kanya kc po may babae po cya 7years po kami nagsama nakapagpatayo po kami ng bahay at meron din lupa na isinangla sa amin for 6years nung umalis po cya sa bagay namin hindi na po cya nagpakita sa akin nagtext narin po ako sa kanya kung anu na ang planu nya sa napundar namin pero wala po cyang reply sa mga text ko sana po matulogan nyo po ako kung anu po ang dapat kung gawin.