My uncle is fond of collecting expensive jewelry and has a habit of making new purchases every now and then. My aunt, on the other hand, is concerned about these expensive purchases since they are starting to affect the financial stability of their marriage. She is also worried that my uncle would keep these pieces of jewelry to himself since he always reminds her that they are his exclusive propery and are separate from their conjugal property. My aunt is now curious to know if her husband’s pieces of jewelry are still part of their conjugal property or if they are solely the property of her husband. Please advise us on, whether they can still be included in their conjugal property. Thank you, and more power!
Considering the details you have mentioned, and if there is no agreement as to the manner of administration between your married uncle and his wife, we will assume that the property regime of absolute community property governs their marriage. Under this kind of property regime, all of the property owned by the spouses shall form their conjugal property, to wit:
Article 91. Unless otherwise provided in this chapter or in the marriage settlement, the community property shall consist of all the property owned by the spouses at the time of the celebration of the marriage or acquired thereafter. (Family Code of the Philippines)
A special form of co-ownership is established as a consequence of this property regime wherein the property of one spouse is now owned in common together with the other spouse. Considering this, the property owned by your uncle will also be the property of your aunt upon their marriage.
With regard to your aunt’s concern regarding your uncle’s claim that his pieces of jewelry are his exclusive property, note that the Family Code of the Philippines has a specific provision applicable to their situation. According to the law:
Art. 92. The following shall be excluded from the community property:
Property acquired during the marriage by gratuitous title by either spouse, and the fruits as well as the income thereof, if any, unless it is expressly provided by the donor, testator or grantor that they shall form part of the community property;
Property for personal and exclusive use of either spouse. Jewelry, however, shall form part of the community property;
Property acquired before the marriage by either spouse who has legitimate descendants by a former marriage, and the fruits as well as the income, if any, of such property. (Ibid., Emphasis supplied)
It is clear from this provision that while the law enumerates the pieces of propertys that are excluded from the community property of the husband and wife, it also expressly states that pieces of jewelry are part of the community property. This clear and express mention of the status of the pieces of jewelry confirms that the same are not the exclusive property of only one spouse, but rather a part of the community property that entitles both the husband and wife equal right to it. Therefore, your uncle cannot claim exclusivity of ownership over his pieces of jewelry as they belong equally to him and your aunt as a married couple.
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