Will my wife have a share in the house and lot, which was donated by my parents, once we are separated?
Dear Mr. X,
We would assume that you were married during the effectivity of the Family Code of the Philippines (FCP), and that you and your wife did not execute a marriage settlement regarding the property regime that will apply upon your marriage. Hence, you will be governed by the system of absolute community of property. Under this regime, the community property shall consist of all the properties owned by the spouses at the time of the celebration of the marriage or acquired thereafter (Article 91,FCP). In other words, at the precise moment that your marriage is celebrated, all of the properties which you and your wife own before you were married, shall be automatically converted to community property without a need of any judicial act.
The same is true with respect to the properties which either of you acquired during your marriage. However, there are certain classes of property, which are considered as exclusive property of the spouses and as such are excluded from their community property. These are enumerated in Article 92 of the Family Code of the Philippines, to wit:
“Article 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.”
Donation is defined as an act of liberality whereby a person disposes gratuitously of a thing or right in favor of another, who accepts it (Article 725, Civil Code of the Philippines (CCP) ). According to paragraph 1 of Article 92 of the Family Code of the Philippines, the property acquired by gratuitous title shall be presumed to be the reserved or exclusive property of the recipient unless the grantor/donor expressly provides that it forms part of the spouses’ community property. Hence, your wife can only have a share in the house and lot donated by your parents if it was expressly provided in their deed of donation that it shall form part of your community property. Without this provision, the house and lot shall be your exclusive property from which your wife will have no share once you are legally separated.
We hope that we were able to answer your query. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.
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