Requirements for execution, modification of marriage settlement

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Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I married Victor in 2009. Before our marriage, we did not execute any agreement with regard to our respective properties. However, sometime in March 2010, we executed our marriage settlement, through a compromise agreement, due to our conflicting issues with respect to the properties acquired after our marriage. We wanted to have a complete separation of properties, but the income therein will be used for the family. We just wanted to simply separate the ownership and titles of our respective properties. Hence, we made an agreement in writing witnessed by our best friends. I would like to ask if this kind of property arrangement would suffice and thus, be valid?
Mila

Dear Mila,
The provision of Executive Order No. 209, as amended, or otherwise known as the Family Code of the Philippines, particularly Article 77 thereof provides for the requirements for execution and modification of marriage settlement.

“Art. 77. The marriage settlements and any modification thereof shall be in writing, signed by the parties and executed before the celebration of the marriage. They shall not prejudice third persons unless they are registered in the local civil registry where the marriage contract is recorded as well as in the proper registries of properties. (122a)”

In sum, for marriage settlement to be valid, the following must be present: (i) it must be in writing; (ii) signed by the parties; (iii) executed before the celebration of marriage; and (iv) registered in the Civil Register where the marriage contract is recorded.


However, the Supreme Court in the case of Efren Pana vs Heirs of Jose Juanite (GR No. 164201, December 10, 2012), penned by former Associate Justice Roberto Abad emphasized that post-marriage modification of such settlements can take place only where: (a) the absolute community or conjugal partnership was dissolved and liquidated upon a decree of legal separation; (b) the spouses who were legally separated reconciled and agreed to revive their former property regime; (c) judicial separation of property had been had on the ground that a spouse abandons the other without just cause or fails to comply with his obligations to the family; (d) there was judicial separation of property under Article 135; and (e) the spouses jointly filed a petition for the voluntary
dissolution of their absolute community or conjugal partnership of gains.

Thus, in your case, the marriage settlement you executed is not valid. However, you may jointly file a petition for dissolution of your property relations existing at the time of your marriage in light of Article 136 of the Family Code, which provides that the spouses may jointly file a petition for the dissolution of the absolute community or the conjugal partnership of gains, and for the separation of the common properties.

“Art. 136. The spouses may jointly file a verified petition with the court for the voluntary dissolution of the absolute community or the conjugal partnership of gains, and for the separation of their common properties.

xxx”

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 dearpao@manilatimes.net

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