I need advice regarding a dispute between me and my wife concerning her jewelry. She has a habit of buying expensive jewelry almost every month. This is a problem for us considering our tight monthly budget. We always argue about this because I’m telling her that we might need to dispose some of the pieces that she has acquired since we need more money for household expenses. She, on the other hand, claims that I don’t have a say in her jewelry items for they are her own property because she buys them from her own money.
I’d like to know if the jewelry that she has should be considered as part of our common properties as a married couple or is it really her own exclusive property. Thank you in advance.
In response to your query, we must first establish the fact that according to law, if there is no agreement as to the manner of administration of property between a married couple, the regime of absolute community property shall govern their marriage.
As to what are included in this property regime, the law specifies that:
“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).
The application of this property regime results in a special form of co-ownership wherein the property of one spouse is now owned in common by the other spouse. However, this is qualified by a provision in the Family Code of the Philippines that expressly provides for certain properties that are excluded from the absolute community property. According to the law:
“Art. 92. The following shall be excluded from the community property:
1. 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;
2. Property for personal and exclusive use of either spouse. However, jewelry shall form part of the community property;
3. 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.” (Article 92, Family Code of the Philippines)
While the said law enumerates the properties excluded from the community property of the husband and wife, note that it also expressly states that jewelry is included in the community party.
This clear and express mention of the status of jewelry resolves the dispute between you and your wife as the above cited law explicitly states that it is a part of your community property and entitles you an equal right to it. Therefore, your wife cannot claim exclusivity of ownership over the said pieces of jewelry.
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 email@example.com