What happens to property ownership when you get married in the Philippines

Property ownership Marriage

Back in the day, most people in the Philippines waited until after marriage before buying a house.  In fact, living with the parents until it was time to tie the knot ensured couples could save up enough to buy their dream home. These days, people are buying homes before getting married.

There are reasons for this including wanting to be close to workplaces and a general desire for more independence. Of course, it means you’re going to want to know what happens to your property when you do decide to get married. The good news is that the rules are fairly straightforward, but you’re still going to want to know the options available and pick what feels best for you both.

The Family Code of the Philippines

The Family Code of the Philippines states any properties a married coupled acquired before they wed are automatically co-owned assuming no prenuptial agreement has been signed, more on that later. A section titled, “Absolute Community of Property” states:

  • All properties acquired before and during the marriage are now part of a single estate.
  • Any property that’s donated or inherited by either spouse is also part of the single estate.
  • Legal separation will not affect this. Both parties will continue co-ownership of the properties, unless the spouses file a judicial separation of properties.

However, the Family Code of the Philippines only applies to marriages that took place after August 3, 1988. There’s a whole different set of rules if you were married before then.

Conjugal Property of Gains

The Conjugal Property of Gains governs property ownership for couples wed on August 3, 1988 or any date prior to that. Here’s what you need to know about it:

  • Any property acquired before the marriage belongs to the spouse that owns it.
  • Property bought during their marriage is jointly owned.
  • If the couple decides to separate, any property that the husband bought before the marriage will be exclusively his. The same thing goes to the wife. Meanwhile, the couple still equally own shared properties until they file a judicial separation of properties.

Prenuptial Agreement

Confused by all that? Well, there is a third option, although it is not one historically popular in the Philippines. Signing a prenuptial agreement allows the future husband and wife to determine who gets what in case there is a separation. The legally binding agreement allows couples to circumvent the absolute terms of the Family Code of the Philippines.

Ultimately, you and your partner are going to need to talk about which option works best for you. For some couples, especially those that already own property, a prenuptial agreement makes life easier. For others, they may not feel comfortable with such a contract. There really is no right or wrong answer, so talk it over with your soon-to-be spouse.