Marriage, like separation, is a transformative and life-altering choice to make that should not be easily overlooked. One’s wedding ceremony is filled with new hope and aspirations for a lifetime to spend next to one another. Separation and divorce are the last things on a wedded couple’s mind as they proceed down the aisle, literally or figuratively speaking, on their nuptial day. Nevertheless, an inescapable fact is that many married couples result in separation. People will eventually evolve, thrive, change personal preferences, or even pursue career opportunities that carry them in unpredictable ways. Even though none of these are valid reasons for separation, they are frequently a contributing factor. But what happens to conjugal properties of these married couple who decide to split up? Find out more about how to divide conjugal properties during separation through this article.
Marriage and Separation
Separation signifies that a person is residing apart from his or her spouse while remaining legally married until the couple obtains a legal judgment of divorce. Although it is the husband and the wife who make the final decision to separate, the abolition of marital relationships is not only a personal matter but is also a constitutional issue. This is particularly when it pertains to the distribution of the couple’s property. Even though separation does not cease the marital relationship between the couple, this can actually impact the couple’s financial commitments there until the finalization of the divorce judgment. It can be difficult to establish the line between what property is yours, your spouse’s, and yours both, between a married couple. The good news is that the Philippine law has stipulated clear standards or regimes that regulate married people’s property ties.
The Philippine law established three property regimes:
1. Conjugal Partnership of Gains (CPG)
This is when a married couple upholds independent ownership of the assets they owned prior to marriage. The revenue, profits, or gains from the spouses’ distinct properties constitute their conjugal property or the common fund that both spouses own.
2. Absolute Community of Property (ACP)
On July 6, 1987, former President Corazon Aquino signed Executive Code No. 209, also known as the Philippine Family Code. It implies that all properties accumulated during or prior to the union are officially considered conjugal properties upon getting married for couples wedded on or after August 3, 1988. Conjugal property refers to the assets and properties owned by a wedded couple. Under the Family Code, all property accumulated during or preceding the marriage is considered conjugal property. This signifies that any property possessed by a wife while single is also possessed by her husband, and any property possessed by a husband while single is also possessed by his wife after they got married. According to Philippine law, when two people wed, a portion or all of their and their spouse’s assets becomes conjugal property. The married couple becomes co-owners of properties owned separately at the time of marriage as well as those accumulated later during the course of their marital relationship. Except for some exceptions such as property owned by deliberate title by only one spouse alone, this creates a common fund known as the absolute community. When a couple covered by Absolute Community of Property files for legal separation or annulment, their conjugal properties are shared evenly between them.
3. Complete Separation of Properties
Each spouse holds personal ownership of the property they decided to bring into the marital relationship as well as the assets they obtained after the marriage. Property separation can refer to either current or forthcoming property or both, and it can be total or partial. In this second case, the property that has not been consented to be separate shall belong to the spouse’s absolute community.
Read also: Conjugal Properties: How do They work?
How to divide conjugal properties in the Philippines after separation?
In the case of a legal separation throughout the Philippines, there has to be one guilty spouse and one innocent spouse. The growth in the market value of the conjugal property from the date of the marriage to the period of dissolution is called the net profit. According to Philippine law, the guilty spouse will have no right to the net profits of conjugal property. This is because the guilty spouse’s allocation would be given either to the innocent spouse or to their children. Under the Philippine marriage law, it is in some form a winner takes all system.
The discussion on how to divide conjugal properties will be addressed in a case of annulment, however, it could take a lot of time and challenges. Moreover, legal separation also terminates the regime of conjugal property, but it is more complicated, costly, and time-consuming.
Fortunately, a couple can split their marital property without proceeding through the long and difficult legal separation and the annulment process. Just about all legal professionals suggest Judicial Property Separation. This is because the arrangement between the two individuals involved frequently leads to harsh disagreement. Through the voluntary separation, a married couple can submit a joint petition on how to divide conjugal properties. This agreement between the two parties is sufficient for the court to look into the division of conjugal property. It is recommended that both parties provide this voluntary separation of property arrangement in their consultation with their lawyer about how to file legal separation in the Philippines.
Judicial Property Separation is significantly quicker, less expensive, and less challenging compared to annulment or legal separation. It involves separating conjugal property between the two parties for the duration of their marriage. Judicial Property Separation is advised when both parties have already come to an agreement on how to divide the conjugal property.
Prenuptial Agreements and Conjugal Rights
To avoid the distress and challenge of traversing the multiple marital property rules, it appears best to implement a prenuptial or marriage settlement to discuss how to divide the conjugal property. With an utter lack of a prenuptial agreement or a marriage settlement, the regulations of the Family Code will govern the spouses’ property regime. If the marriage was formed prior to the Family Code, dated before August 3, 1988, the regime on Conjugal Partnership of Gains (CPG) will apply. On the other hand, if the wedding was contracted after August 3, 1988, the regime of the Absolute Community of Property (ACP) will be imposed.
In the circumstance of a prenuptial agreement, the two couples have the option to separate assets or interests all throughout the marriage. The parties can also concur on the consequences of infringing on one’s conjugal rights. If a person acts in bad faith, commits adultery, or violates his or her spouse’s conjugal rights, he may have constricted shares from the communal property in the case of a separation. Conjugal rights include spouse’s recognition, assistance, sexual relations, and shared property rights.
Each and every term and condition crafted in the prenuptial agreement can prevail during a legal separation or annulment. It should be noted that the prenup must be made and signed prior to the marital proceedings, and if a minor is to be allowed to marry, the prenup must include the minor’s parents or legal guardians.
To sum it up, choosing to be married to another individual actually constitutes not only having to share one’s life with the other but also one’s property. As a result, it is critical to understand the financial commitments of your spouse’s common properties. Make sure to discuss how to divide conjugal property prior to the wedding ceremony. Remember that there are certain things that people cannot afford, but for everything else, contact legal counsel!
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Written by MC Sanchez