My parents got married in 2001 and they have been separated-in-fact since 2005. My father left us from that year and we never heard anything from him. We only received information last year from my father’s siblings that he is already dead. Allegedly, my father left a house and lot, which is his inheritance from his parents, and the property is being occupied by the illegitimate child of my father from another woman. My mother, however, refused to claim the property because it is located near my father’s relatives and siblings whom she considers as irrational and rowdy. Since my mother is no longer interested in such property, can I claim it from the illegitimate children of my father?
It is presumed that the absolute community of property governs the property relations of your parents since you failed to mention in your letter if your parents had entered into any kind of marriage settlement when they contracted marriage. The general law on the matter is Article 91 of the Family Code of the Philippines which states:
“Unless otherwise provided in this chapter or in the marriage settlements, 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.”
Thus, all the properties acquired by your parents are considered as belonging to the absolute community of property with the exemption of those properties considered as exclusive property of the spouses.
The house and lot is an inheritance of your deceased father; hence, this is considered as acquired by gratuitous title during the marriage. This finds support under Article 92 (1) of the same code which provides that “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.”
In your case, your mother’s lack of interest involving the property inherited by your father is immaterial considering that she has no right over the property. The exclusive property of your deceased father will pass to you and your illegitimate brother by way of succession. Under Article 895 in relation to Article 983 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines, it is stated that “the legitime of each acknowledged natural children and each of the natural children by legal fiction shall consist of one-half of the legitime of each of the legitimate children or descendants. Xxx xxx”.
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.