Registration Of Prenuptial Agreements In The Philippines

A prenuptial agreement in the Philippines is required to be signed by the contracting parties and at least two witnesses of legal age prior to the celebration of marriage.   

As provided in Article 77 of the Family Code, “The marriage settlement and any modification thereof shall be in writing, signed by the parties and executed before the celebration of the marriage.  They shall not prejudice third persons unless they are registered in the local civil registry where the marriage contract is recorded as well as in the proper registries of property.”

A reading of the above provision will reveal that while registration of the prenup is not required for its validity, registration is made an additional requirement if the contracting parties wish to bind third parties to the provisions of the agreement.  Third parties may mean the parties’ family members and even creditors who may enter into contracts with them.

If the prenuptial agreement is recorded at the proper registries, the creditors will be afforded the opportunity to discover what property regime applies to the spouses.   This information may be used by the creditors should a debt collection case ensue and the spouses be named as respondents in the case.  The prenup may determine whether one or both spouses can be made liable to the creditor for the unpaid obligations.

Registration of s prenuptial agreement in the Philippines is done at the Civil Registry of the City or Municipality which issued the marriage license.  Before registration is caused, the prenup is brought before a Notary Public for notarization.  After notarization, the procedure for the registration of the prenup will be as follows:

  1. Submission of the necessary documents for evaluation;
  2. Review and approval of the documents by the City Civil Registrar;
  3. Payment of fees at the Office of the City Treasurer;
  4. Registration of the agreement;
  5. Issuance of a Certified True Copy of the agreement;
  6. Attachment of the Certified True Copy to the Marriage Certificate.

Marriages between Filipinos and foreigners have increased greatly in the recent years.  Reasons for this include the escalation in the number of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), as well as the influx of foreign presence in the Philippines.

For lawyers in Family Law practice, it is not unusual to hear Filipinos’ misconceptions  on being married and for getting divorces abroad.  The most common misconception is that a Filipino may get a divorce if he is married abroad or he is married to a foreigner.

Until present, Philippine law still does not support divorce.  It does not afford Filipinos the right to file for a divorce, whether they are in the country or living abroad, if they are married to Filipinos or to foreigners, or if they celebrated their marriage in the Philippines or in another country.   The legal basis is Art. 15 of the New Civil Code, which reads:

Art. 15.  Laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad.

As above stated, Filipinos are bound by their national law wherever they may go.  Until they are naturalized as citizens of another country, Philippine laws shall have control over issues related to Filipinos’ family rights and duties, together with the determination of their condition and legal capacity to enter into contracts and civil relations, including marriages.  The fact of marriage to a foreigner or the celebration of the marriage in another country cannot alter the rule.

Filipinos residing abroad for long periods are quick on getting divorces in their country of residence.  They are encouraged that since they have fulfilled the residency requirement in the country of divorce, the same is automatically valid and recognized in the Philippines.  It is not.  A separate case must be brought before the proper courts in the Philippines before the country can recognize the foreign divorce.

While the Philippines awaits the passing of a divorce law, its present laws afford its citizens with other legal remedies for their marital woes, namely Declaration of Nullity of Marriage if the marriage is void ab initio, or Annulment of Marriage if the marriage is voidable.