Property relations outside of marriage

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. (Article 145, Family Code)

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 Article 145 of the Family Code, 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. (Article 145, Family Code)

Neither party can encumber or dispose by acts inter vivos of his or her share in the property acquired during cohabitation and owned in common, without the consent of the other, until after the termination of their cohabitation. (Article 145, Family Code) Therefore, the female, for example, cannot sell or donate, or otherwise encumber or dispose, without the consent of the male. During their cohabitation, consent of both is needed for a valid encumbrance or disposition of their respective shares.

This particular kind of co-ownership applies when a man and a woman, suffering no illegal impediment to marry each other, exclusively live together as husband and wife under a void marriage or without the benefit of marriage. It is clear, therefore, that for Article 147 to operate, the man and the woman: (1) must be capacitated to marry each other; (2) live exclusively with each other as husband and wife; and (3) their union is without the benefit of marriage or their marriage is void. The term "capacitated" in the first paragraph of the provision pertains to the legal capacity of a party to contract marriage.[1]

Under this property regime, property acquired by both spouses through their work and industry shall be governed by the rules on equal coownership. Any property acquired during the union is prima facie presumed to have been obtained through their joint efforts. A party who did not participate in the acquisition of the property shall be considered as having contributed to the same jointly if said party's efforts consisted in the care and maintenance of the family household. Efforts in the care and maintenance of the family and household are regarded as contributions to the acquisition of common property by one who has no salary or income or work or industry.[2]

The rules which are set up to govern the liquidation of either the absolute community or the conjugal partnership of gains, the property regimes recognized for valid and voidable marriages, are irrelevant to the liquidation of the co-ownership that exists between common-law spousesor spouses of void marriages.[3]

In Barrido v. Nonato, G.R. No. 176492 (October 20, 2014), the former spouses both agree that they acquired the subject property during the subsistence of their marriage which was later declared void by reason of psychological incapacity. Thus, it shall be presumed to have been obtained by their joint efforts, work or industry, and shall be jointly owned by them in equal shares. Barrido, however, claims that the ownership over the property in question is already vested on their children, by virtue of a Deed of Sale. But aside from the title to the property still being registered in the names of the former spouses, said document of safe does not bear a notarization of a notary public. It must be noted that without the notarial seal, a document remains to be private and cannot be converted into a public document,[4] making it inadmissible in evidence unless properly authenticated.[5] Unfortunately, Barrido failed to prove its due execution and authenticity. In fact, she merely annexed said Deed of Sale to her position paper. Therefore, the subject property remains to be owned in common by Nonato and Barrido, which should be divided in accordance with the rules on co-ownership.


[1] Valdes v. Regional Trial Court, Branch 102, Quezon City, 328 Phil. 1289, 1296 (1996); Mercado-Fehr v. Fehr, 460 Phil. 445, 457 (2003); and, Valdes v. Regional Trial Court, Branch 102, Quezon City.

[2] Agapay v. Palang, 342 Phil. 302, 311 (1997).

[3] Valdes v. Regional Trial Court, Branch 102, Quezon City, 328 Phil. 1289, 1296 (1996).

[4] Gonzales v. Atty. Ramos, 499 Phil. 345, 347 (2005).

[5] Salas v. Sta. Mesa Market Corporation, 554 Phil. 343, 348 (2007).

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