House bill does away with pre-nup

By Delon Porcalla

MANILA, Philippines - There may soon be total separation of property between spouses without the need for a pre-nuptial agreement.

Couples whose marriage have turned sour can heave a sigh of relief once House Bill 5268, authored by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, is passed by the House of Representatives and eventually signed into law by President Duterte.

The bill seeks to amend Article 75 (Title IV) of the Family Code, which states that all properties brought into the marriage, including those acquired during the boyfriend-girlfriend period, shall be considered co-owned by the couple in equal shares.

This marital setup is in effect unless both parties signed a pre-nuptial agreement.

In a statement, Alvarez explained that his bill seeks to “prevent bitter property feud between estranged couples,” serving notice that this may “even deter marriage for money.”

For the longest time, all married couples have been governed by the “system of absolute community” where properties and monies of each spouse are considered common and is thus shared, depriving each party of having propriety rights over his/her possession. This bill will provide a solution to such problems, especially once they become estranged.

Alvarez said that while “at first glance, the provision of the law seems to be a testament to the integrity of the Filipino family, it does not address the complicated realities (in) facing marriages or relationships on the rocks.”

“The State must recognize that these realities are, in fact, burdensome and detrimental to the relations of less-than-ideal families and marriages. The contestation of property in the face of a growing rift only breeds resentment,” the Davao del Norte lawyer-congressman argued.

To address these problems, the bill proposes to replace the regime of absolute community with that of “total separation of property.”

“This system provides that each spouse shall own, dispose of, possess, administer and enjoy his and her own property, without need for consent of the other. Additionally, separate earnings shall be owned by each spouse separately,” Alvarez explained.

The bill, however, retains the provision of the Family Code allowing future couples to enter into a marriage settlement for a “regime of absolute community, conjugal partnership of gains, complete separation of property or any other regime.”

Thus, the proposed amendment provides: “In the absence of a marriage settlement, or when the regime agreed upon is void, the regime of total separation of property as established in this Code shall govern.”

Likewise, the same system applies to the property regimes of unions without marriage or under a void marriage.

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