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COMMON-LAW MARRIAGE (LIVE-IN

RELATIONSHIPS) IN THE PHILIPPINES


By: Atty.Fred | November 4, 2006 in Family Law

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Money is [one of] the root[s] of all kinds of relationship problems, says an article at the Family Relationships
site. In my modest years of law practice, I can say that among the most bitter confrontations (in and out of
court) relate to property/money/inheritance issues between members of the family.

Under the Family Code of the Philippines, property matters between the husband and wife are set forth in relative
detail, e.g., the forms and requisites of a marriage settlement or ante-nuptial agreement, donations by reason
of marriage, the “default” property regime of absolute community of property (vis-a-vis separation of property,
and conjugal partnership of gains), support for the spouse and the children, and the e ects of legal separation
and annulment of marriage on the spouses’ properties. I’m still trying to decide if I should further discuss any of
these topics (also, the rules on succession/inheritance are treated in other laws/issuances, and may be dis-
cussed separately in other entries).

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For this entry, allow me to focus on something that appears to be increasingly common nowadays — the “live-
in” relationship, also called “common-law marriage“. This is governed by Article 147 of the Family Code, which
reads:
Art. 147. When a man and a woman who are capacitated to marry each other, live exclusively with each other
as husband and wife without the bene t 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.

In the absence of proof to the contrary, properties acquired while they lived together shall be presumed to
have been obtained by their joint e orts, work or industry, and shall be owned by them in equal shares. For
purposes of this Article, 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 e orts consisted in the
care and maintenance of the family and of the household.

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.

When only one of the parties to a void marriage is in good faith, the share of the party in bad faith in the co-
ownership shall be forfeited in favor of their common children. In case of default of or waiver by any or all of
the common children or their descendants, each vacant share shall belong to the respective surviving
descendants. In the absence of descendants, such share shall belong to the innocent party. In all cases, the
forfeiture shall take place upon termination of the cohabitation.

The Family Code (Art. 147) recognizes, and expressly governs the property relations in, the relationship where a
man and a woman live exclusively with each other just like a husband and wife, but without the bene t of mar-
riage (or when the marriage is void). It is required, however, that both must be capacitated, or has no legal
impediment, to marry each other (for instance, couples under a “live-in” relationship will not be covered under
this provision if one or both has a prior existing marriage). In this situation, property acquired by both spouses
through their work and industry shall be governed by the rules on equal co-ownership. Any property acquired
during the union is presumed to have been obtained through their joint e orts. As to the homemaker, or the
one who cared for and maintained the family household, he/she is still considered to have jointly contributed
to the acquisition of a property, even if he/she did not directly participate in the property’s acquisition.

How about if one or both partners are not capacitated to marry, as when one (or both) has an existing or prior
marriage which has not been annulled/declared void? This is covered under Art. 148 of the Family Code, which
reads:
Art. 148. In cases of cohabitation not falling under the preceding Article, only the properties acquired by both
of the parties through their actual joint contribution of money, property, or industry shall be owned by them
in common in proportion to their respective contributions. In the absence of proof to the contrary, their con-
tributions and corresponding shares are presumed to be equal. The same rule and presumption shall apply
to joint deposits of money and evidences of credit.

If one of the parties is validly married to another, his or her share in the co-ownership shall accrue to the ab-
solute community or conjugal partnership existing in such valid marriage. If the party who acted in bad faith
is not validly married to another, his or her shall be forfeited in the manner provided in the last paragraph of
the preceding Article.

The foregoing rules on forfeiture shall likewise apply even if both parties are in bad faith.

In other words, under Art. 148, only the properties acquired through their ACTUAL JOINT contribution of
money, property or industry shall be owned by them in common (in proportion to their actual contributions).
There is no presumption that properties were acquired through the partners’ joint e ort. Please also note that
if one has a prior marriage, his/her share shall be forfeited in favor of that previous marriage (as an aside, the
children under the second relationship shall be considered as illegitimate).

So, as previously stated in this Forum, put your ( rst) house in order rst. No need to rush; love is patient. It can
wait.

Related Posts:
1. Breach of Promise to Marry
2. Guidelines on Judicial Solemnization of Marriage
3. System of Absolute Community: Property Relations in Marriage
4. Conjugal Partnership of Gains: Property Relations in Marriage
5. Premature Marriage No Longer a Crime

176 thoughts on “Common-law marriage (live-in relationships) in the Philippines”


ms_agnes
December 14, 2006 at 3:31 am

how about if the petitioner is a Japanese national with a prior marriage to a lipina which has not been
annuled? is he entitled to get any share from the business and properties acquired during his cohabitation with
the defendant ( lipina mother of 2)? all loans used for the properties and businesses are made by the
defendant. Cash used are from the investors who are enjoying privileges which are being given by the
defendant.

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Atty. Fred Post author

December 15, 2006 at 5:07 am

Agnes, it really isn’t clear in what capacity is the Japanese a “petitioner” and the Filipina a “defendant”. It’s also
not clear if there are two separate relationships (with the use of the terms “prior marriage” and “cohabitation”).
There are so many questions that must be answered – but I can’t ask (and please don’t answer) because this is
not allowed in this site (please see Terms of Use). I hope you understand.

Mr. Yani
July 10, 2017 at 3:48 pm

Is having a live-in relationship or common law marriage between a public school teacher and his girlfriend a
ground for dismissal in public service?
Herbert
February 6, 2018 at 9:23 am

Atty. Fred, magandang araw po sa inyo. Ako po ay may kinakasama sa loob ng 3 taon at 5 buwan. Sya po ay
may anak sa una ngunit hiwalay n po cla. Ako po ay kanyang iniwan sa kabila po ng hindi ko pagpapabaya sa
pamilya, lahat po ng pangangailangan namin ay naibibigay ko po pati po ang mga luho nya sa sarili nya ay
naibibigay ko din po at nagbibigay din po ako ng pera para sa anak nya sa una. Ang dahilan po nya kaya nya
ako iniwan ay dahil nagbibisyo daw po ako at yun po ay walang katotohanan at hindi po nya nakita kahit min-
san na ako ay nagbisyo naiisip lamang po nya iyon at ibinibintang sa akin dahil may kaibigan po ako na nag-
bibisyo ngunit hindi naman po tama na pag isipan nya ako na nagbibisyo din dahil hindi po totoo yun. Gusto ko
po sya kausapin at linawin po ang lahat ngunit ang mga magulang nya po ay humahadlang na mag usap po
kmi. May karapatan po ba ako para makausap ko po sya? Maraming salamat po.

katrobles24
March 17, 2007 at 4:16 am

what happens in this situation:


man was previouly married and civil annullment is pending for the last 20 or so years (this was not disclosed to
2nd wife), church annullment document was provided and woman marries the man.

now the man wants leave the current wife to be with another woman after 18 years. Man tells woman that
‘supposed marriage’ is invalid since anullment was not nal (man shows up in NSO with 2 marriages) and
woman does not have a right on the conjugal propery’. what kind of rights does the woman have with regards
to property that came out of the 18 years of cohabitation? and what are appropriate next steps?

Atty. Fred Post author

March 20, 2007 at 5:05 am

Kat, I added the full text of Article 148 of the Family Code in the post above. You’ll nd the answers there.

jane
April 3, 2007 at 5:09 am
do i have the right to ask for nancial support with my x live in partner? im still 3 mos pregnant? what should i
do? he must be the responsibilty of having a baby.. hope u can help

jane
April 3, 2007 at 5:11 am

do i have the right to ask for nancial support with my x live in partner? im still 3 mos pregnant? what should i
do? he must be feel the responsibilty of having a baby.. hope u can help…

jzol
June 30, 2007 at 11:39 am

Hi Atty Fred,

I have an Aunt, she lived with this man for 20 years out of wedlock, because the latter have a prior legal
marriage. Now, the man died, left in a bank is a certain amount of money. I would just like to know if my aunt
has legal rights to claim the money to the bank, if yes, what do we need to do to have the bank aggreed on this
process. Thanks in advance for your reply. =)

Atty. Fred Post author

July 5, 2007 at 1:07 am

Jzol,

Thank you. First o , I’m prohibited from giving any legal advice, so let’s limit this to giving you legal information.
As discussed in the article, only the properties acquired by both parties through their actual joint contribution
of money, property or industry shall be owned in common in proportion to the respective contribution.  In the
absence of proof to the contrary, the sharing is equal. I’m sure that if you ask your bank about this, they will re-
fer that question to their lawyers. I suppose they would say that since the account is under the name of the guy
(not a joint account), then it goes to him or to his legal heirs (and that would be the legitimate family and the il-
legitimate children). Just try to ask the bank and check what they would say. Thanks.

Jane,
In general, a father (regardless of whether the child is legitimate or illegitimate) is under obligation to give
support.

Pingback: Marriage Settlement (Prenuptial Agreement) and Introduction to Property Relations in Marriage at
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Ms. A
November 2, 2007 at 5:55 pm

Hello Atty. Fred,

does a common-law marriage start with day 1 of living together i.e. in a commonly rented apartment or as of
what point? And by what – aside from evident separation – is such a common-law marriage interrupted? I´m
asking due to a European friend moving in but also being gone for months to work elsewhere (outside
Philippines)? Thanks for your reply.

Atty. Fred Post author

November 15, 2007 at 1:55 pm

Ms.A, there’s no exact time provided, bt the phrase “live exclusively with each other” will give yoU an idea. Good
luck.

mrandmrs
May 14, 2008 at 9:21 am

Hello Atty. Fred,

If a couple only got married because the woman was impregnated (they weren’t together o cially when it
happened) and later on, half of the couple realized that the marriage was a mistake and she’d like to cohabit
with another man, is that grounds for annulment? If the husband and wife have agreed to live in separate
homes and the wife decides to live with another, is that acceptable?
Thank you in advance for your response.

danho
July 29, 2008 at 5:28 pm

hi, atty, fred,

a man legally marriage with woman A, and after 5 years, he living together with woman B.
in the next 30 years.
he has two houses, one for woman A, one for woman B, and he stays with woman B about 80% of the days,
20% with woman A.

now he dead, no will, woman A has children with the man, woman b has no children.
children of woman A, woman A, and woman B are all alive now

from your article, i think woman B are in common law marriage with the man, and woman A is in a normal legit
marrage. the code said the property should be shared equally between the husband of wife.
but he got twi wifes, so how should the properties under his name shared/ inherited ?

Lourde Ann
September 19, 2017 at 12:55 pm

The common law partner is only applicable to those who are single and not yet legally married.

Elinor
July 13, 2018 at 3:02 pm

How about po yong asawa ko nag balik islam then nagpakasal sha ulit tapos mayroon dilang anak valid po ba
ung kasal nla? Christian pa po sha nong nagpakasal kami.
nianneros
June 15, 2009 at 10:09 am

in the separation of live in partners.. what are the rights of the common children? can the properties be divided
equally including the children? or the common children can only demand nancial support?… what if the father
have no job and the only support he could give are the monies he could get from the separation?…

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