Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Legal Query: "in the name of one spouse only"

I received a legal query from a disturbed wife. In a nutshell, this is her question:
Husband and wife bought a land. In the deed of sale the vendee’s name was that only of the husband and not the wife. In the absence of any ante nuptial agreement, is the land owned by the husband only, or both the husband and wife?
The land purchased is owned by both the husband and the wife.
According to Article 75 of the Family Code, In the absence of marriage settlement, the system of absolute community property shall govern.
Article 88 of the Family Code says that the absolute community property between spouses commence at the precise moment that the marriage is celebrated. So if the spouses were married on December 20, 1998, then the absolute community property commenced at that time.
According to Article 91, the community property shall consist of all the property owned by the spouses at the time of the celebration of marriage or acquired thereafter.
That is why it is called “absolute community”. Everything brought to the marriage, and those acquired later during the marriage belongs to the both the spouses.
So if the land is bought during the marriage in an absolute community regime, even if it is in the name of one spouse only (commonly the ownership of title is described “X married to Y”), the property belongs to both.
So the wife should not worry that the title is in the name of the husband. Even if this property was acquired by the husband before they were married (unless the husband has legitimate children from a previous marriage), at the precise moment of celebration of marriage, the property is owned by both of them.
That is the law.
Also the law expressly states in Article 93 that Property acquired during the marriage is presumed to belong to the community, unless it is proved that it is one of those excluded therefrom.
Thus, as long as a property is acquired DURING THE MARRIAGE, it is presumed to be jointly owned by both spouses.
As a matter of fact Article 116 of the Family Code is more emphatic: All property acquired during the marriage, whether the acquisition appears to have been made, contracted or registered in the name of one or both spouses, is presumed to be conjugal unless the contrary is proved.
Article 116 is explained by the Supreme Court in Procopio Villanueva versus Court of Appeals G.R. No. 143286. April 14, 2004.

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