• Unmarried couples can divide property

    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    I have a live-in partner for almost nine years. Even if we are both single, he is just not the marrying type of a guy, so we really never considered contracting marriage. All throughout the years we had been together, we were able to build a small house and acquired valuable properties.

    Last year, I learned that he had another woman and that basically ended our relationship. I tried to amicably settle with him the division of our properties, but he would not cooperate. I just want to know what legal action I have against him.

    Dear Coleen,
    The property relation that governs you and your former partner is that of co-ownership. This is in consonance with Article 147 of the Family Code of the Philippines which provides that, “When a man and a woman who are capacitated to marry each other, live exclusively with each other as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or under a void marriage, their wages and salaries shall be owned by them in equal shares and the property acquired by both of them through their work or industry shall be governed by the rules on co-ownership. x x x” As co-owners, both you and your former partner share equal rights to all of the properties which both of you have acquired while you were still living together as it is presumed that these were obtained through your joint efforts, work or industry, unless there is proof to the contrary (Article 147, Family Code of the Philippines).

    Nevertheless, neither you nor your former partner is mandated to remain in the co-ownership, unless otherwise provided by law. In fact, our Civil Code recognizes the right of a co-owner to demand at any time the partition of the things owned in common (Article 494, New Civil Code (NCC) of the Philippines). Partition may be done either by agreement or by judicial proceedings (Article 496, NCC).

    Considering that, as you have mentioned in your letter, your former partner is not cooperating in possibly reaching an amicable settlement as to the division of the properties you own in common, it would be more sensible for you to file an action for partition in court. If the value of the property does not exceed P50,000, the case should be filed before the Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court or Municipal Circuit Trial Court, as the case may be, where the property is situated. Should it exceed the aforestated amount, the case should be filed before the Regional Trial Court (Section 33 and 19, respectively, Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980).

    Should you and your former partner, during the hearing, reach an agreement as to the partition of your properties, the proper instruments of conveyance shall be made. The court shall likewise confirm your agreement and the same shall be recorded in the registry of deeds of the place where the property is situated. However, if you do not reach an agreement, the court will appoint no more than three competent and disinterested persons as commissioners to make the partition (Section 3, Rule 69, Rules of Court). The commissioners shall make their report as regards to the partition and submit it to the court. The clerk of court shall serve copies thereof to all interested parties and if no objection is filed within ten days from notice, the court will render judgment thereon and the same shall be recorded in the registry of deeds. Should the judgment of the court indicate that you and your former partner are entitled to separate titles to the property, the same shall be made before the register of deeds.

    We hope that we were able to answer your queries. 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 dearpao@manilatimes.net


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