• Unmarried couples jointly own acquired properties

    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    Three years ago, my ex-girlfriend and I got separated after more than a decade of living together.We certainly acquired considerable number of properties.Recently, my ex-girlfriend is demanding half of the properties, even though she just stayed home doing household chores while I worked during the entire duration of our relationship.

    Is she entitled to a share in the said properties despite the fact that she had no participation in acquiring them? My ex-girlfriend is already married to another man and I am planning to marry someone soon.

    Dear Lenon,
    According to the law, the properties acquired by a man and a woman who lived together as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage are considered owned by them. However, their shares in the said properties depend on how much each of them contributed to acquire the same.

    Since as can be deduced from your letter, you and your former girlfriend had no legal impediment to marry during the period of your cohabitation, Article 147 of the Family Code of the Philippines applies to you insofar as the properties mentioned in your letter are concerned. The said Article provides:

    “Art. 147. 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.

    In the absence of proof to the contrary, properties acquired while they lived together shall be presumed to have been obtained by their joint efforts, work or industry, and shall be owned by them in equal shares. For purposes of this Article, a party who did not participate in the acquisition by the other party of any property shall be deemed to have contributed jointly in the acquisition thereof if the former’s efforts consisted in the care and maintenance of the family and of the household.


    Clearly, although your former girlfriend did not take part in obtaining the properties you were mentioning in your letter, your shares thereto are equal. The law explicitly considers her to have shared jointly in acquiring these properties, since she was in charge with the household chores while you were cohabiting. Thus, half of the properties you acquired during your cohabitation belongs to her.

    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 dearpao@manilatimes.net


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    1 Comment

    1. cherry constantino on

      pao, how does this law apply when one of the parties is married and provides 100% of his income to his legal family and 0 to his live in partner? He enjoys everything for free, shouldered by his partner, and wants to have his share of the properties.