Legal Separation In The Philippines

legal-separation-adviceSince the Philippines does not allow for dissolution of a valid marriage, it gives a solution to its citizens whose marriages are no longer capable of providing a harmonious atmosphere to the husband, the wife and their children – Legal Separation.

The Family Code lays down ten (10) grounds for a petition for legal separation. If these grounds are to be summed up, it can be seen that they all have something in common: they may be brought about by violence, whether physical, emotional or psychological, employed by one of the spouses against the other, or to their children, or they may either be due to the wrongful conduct and behavior of the other spouse.

For instance, one very common ground for legal separation is repeated physical violence against the other spouse, or against their common children, or against the child of the violent spouse. As can be seen, neither declaration of nullity of marriage nor divorce makes use of this ground as a basis for filing the petition. That is because the repeated physical violence that is contemplated in legal separation usually occurs or begins after a valid marriage has been celebrated. This goes the same for the other grounds for legal separation.

Unlike in declaration of nullity of marriage, legal separation does not sever the marital ties between the spouses. It just legally allows for the spouses to be physically separated from one another so as to give them time and space apart, in order to prevent them from causing more damage to the other.

This is the ultimate goal of legal separation – to simply keep the spouses away from each other to stop them from further hurting each other. Thus, still helping them preserve their vows to one another. This is perhaps the reason why legal separation remains to be one effective remedy in mending a broken marriage.

Before having your prenuptial agreements done in the Philippines, it  may be helpful to understand the different regimes which may govern the property relations of spouses in the country, as listed in the Family Code of the Philippines.

The System of Absolute Community (or ACP – Absolute Community of Property)

This regime is a “template” in Philippine marital property relations, meaning that if the spouses do not have a valid marriage settlement (or prenup) prior to the marriage celebration, this system will automatically govern the property relations of the couple.  This is the template regime because it is more in keeping with Philippine custom and family unity.

In the ACP, spouses become co-owners of all property they bring into the marriage and those acquired by each or both of them during the marriage, save for the exceptions expressly enumerated by law.  At the dissolution of the marriage, the spouses or their heirs shall equally divide the community assets and liabilities.

The Conjugal Partnership of Gains (CPG)

In this system, husband and wife place in a common fund the fruits of their separate property, and the income from their work, industry or by chance.    Upon dissolution of the marriage, the net gains of the partnership shall be divided equally between the parties, unless a different manner of division has been agreed upon by them in their prenuptial agreement.

The Regime of Separation of Property (or CSP – Complete Separation of Property)

Under this regime, the parties retain ownership, management and control of their separate property and those they acquire during the marriage, together with the fruits and accessions of their separate property.  Each party is also wholly responsible for his or her liabilities.  The spouses are only required to contribute to the family expenses proportionately with their income or value of his properties.

Following an understanding of the property regimes for spouses in the Philippines, the marrying couple can now decide on the terms they wish to appear in their prenuptial agreement.

In the prenuptial agreement, the future spouses may agree on the property regime of:

  • Absolute Community of Property (ACP);

  • Conjugal Partnership of Gains (CPG);

  • Complete Separation of Property (CSP);

  • A combination of the above regimes;

  • Any other regime, as long as it is not contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order or public policy.