Thursday, early dawn, I got curious and partially watched a Netflix film called “Prenup” starring Sam Milby and Jennylyn Mercado, lame but inspirational for a good subject to write about.
In our culture, when two people in love decide to marry, they set aside suggestions on property arrangements and stick to the ancient traditions of “what is yours or mine is now ours.”
In law, it’s called the Absolute Community of Property or the Conjugal Partnership of Gains. The new and complex era of marriage now is into pre-nuptial agreements where the test of trust and understanding must come into play.
A “prenup”defines the financial rights, responsibilities, and limits between husband and wife, regardless of the economic status of either. It is a contract whose elements: subject matter are the properties; the consideration being the entry into the marriage and consent given by both.
The most important element is it must be done before marriage as there is no such thing as a post-nuptial one. Of course, a vitiated consent renders it invalid. Thus, saying “yes” by mistake, violence, intimidation, undue influence, or fraud under Article 1330 of the Civil Code makes it a no-go – like a shotgun wedding, forging signatures, or when pregnant and in the thick of wedding preparations – the groom’s parents make it a condition for a ‘prenup’ to be signed.
Of course, the limit of a prenup is it must not adversely affect the property rights of children and other forced heirs. Best to get your own lawyer though whose guidance on the do’s and don’ts would be valuable, for a consult before signing.
So why a prenup?
The old rich says it is a parochial safeguard to ensure that the family wealth remains within the bloodline – their children, grandchildren, and their grandchildren’s children. If the son has huge family assets in his name marries and pre-deceases the wife, his wealth is now substantially nay, completely transferred to a surviving wife who is “unrelated” by blood.
On the other hand, a prenup could provide for the financial security of a less wealthy spouse (politically correct term for hampas lupa), in the event of an annulment provided she does not commit acts which could lead to disinheritance or infidelity.
The prenupalso protects illegitimate children from a prior or even other existing relationships. While Art. 895 of the Civil Code says legitimate children would inherit twice as much as illegitimate children, a properly crafted ‘prenup’ could enable children regardless of status to have equal mana shares. It can provide child support, its extent, amounts, periods or even a percentage of the income and assets of the parent.
Finally, the prenup is a safeguard from existing and future debts of a spouse especially if she gambles, a spend-thrift or take unnecessary risks with investments or indiscretion. Funny though if she gambles and loses, she bears the losses alone. Winnings however become part of the conjugal partnership.
Without a ‘prenup’, the rule in Pana v. Heirs of Jose Juanite, Sr. and Jose Juanite, Jr. (G.R. No. 164201, Dec. 10, 2012) prevails.
Here, the Supreme Court said, “Payment of personal debts contracted by either spouse before the marriage, that of fines and indemnities imposed upon them, as well as the support of illegitimate children of either spouse, may be enforced against the partnership assets, albeit subject to calculation upon liquidation of the partnership (i.e. upon divorce) – this, regardless of whether or not such debts redounded to the benefit of your family.”
Next to a Divorce Law, which remains unpassed, an unsolicited advice to couples thinking of tying the knot – before you do, get a prenup done. At the end of the day, it would be wise, worthwhile, beneficial, unlike in that movie. Sigh!
Pahabol: Congratulations to the publishers, editorial, and administrative staff of the longest running community weekly newspaper in the city, the Baguio Midland Courier on its 74th anniversary!
Even with the pandemic and the modern technology, it had an uninterrupted run delivering the news without fear or favor. I am privileged and honored to be part of it and my fervent hope is for it live on to its Centennial celebrations.