Paraphernal and conjugal assets


IN connection with my recent article about the embattled spouses Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista and his estranged wife, Patricia Paz Bautista, I have received a few requests to elucidate on the concepts of "paraphernal" and conjugal assets.

Let it be known, however, that as I accede to do so, no allusion to the cited spouses will be intended, in deference not only to an ongoing criminal suit filed by Mr. Bautista against his wife, but also to other related suits that may thereafter arise, his possible impeachment included.


Assets up for grabs

Paraphernal and conjugal assets are issues that sometimes arise between legally married couples, as well as among their forced heirs, who wish to draw the line between assets exclusively owned by each spouse on the one hand, as well as those jointly owned by them on the other. An Illustration is called for at this point. 

Let's just say that Eva Chua, a 56-year-old businesswoman-socialite who lives alone, owns a fully furnished house in upscale Global City, a boutique, a taxi fleet, a yacht, a Mercedes 450 and an SUV, nine stock certificates, five bank deposit accounts, two poodles, a parrot, and a huge assortment of personal belongings. 

Ben Cruz, on the other hand, is her popular 28-year-old boy friend, a tall and handsome former PBA basketball player who is now a City Councilor. He owns a Vios, a co-owner of a three-chair barbershop, and a few personal belongings. Eva and Ben then get married without executing a pre-nuptial contract (prenup, for short).


Pre-nuptial agreement

Now, the law says that: if a prenup was not forged between Ben and Eva, as in fact none was, all their afore-cited assets will comprise the so-called "absolute community", where the said assets will now be owned in common by them on a 50-50 basis. But this raises Eva's hackles, as she feels she has been duped by an unjust law.

Within months after their grand wedding, violent quarrels bring Eva to file a case in court for an annulment of their marriage. No, Billy (Marquez), Eva's case will not prosper because the basis she cites for annulment is not recognized by the law. 

The law is far from being unjust. Eva's trouble is that she failed to avail herself of a protective shield provided by the law.

Eva could have avoided her woes had she forged with Ben a prenup providing that their marriage would be governed by the so-called "conjugal partnership of gains" (CPG, for short). 

The purpose of the CPG regime is to prevent gold diggers from marrying into wealthy families --- a practice that not only debases the sanctity of marriages, but also undermines the family as the basic unit of society.


Fruits of the CPG's assets

You're correct, Tom (Alonzo), all the "fruits" that accrue from the CPG's assets during the marriage shall be shared by both spouses. In our illustration, for instance, all the earnings from Eva's assets such as cash and stock dividends, other profits and gains, shall be deemed "conjugal" and, as such, shall be equally shared between Ben and herself.

Not only that...Ben's salaries and other emoluments earned by him as City Councilor shall likewise be deemed conjugal for the same reason of equal sharing. Your other point is also correct, Tom. Unlawfully acquired assets cannot be shared by spouses. They are surrendered to their rightful owners. 

In the case of Ben who is a government official, any asset unlawfully acquired by him by reason of his office, such as bribe money, shall be confiscated in favor of the State in an appropriate proceeding.


Policy of the State

Emily (Gomez), it is not the policy of the State to facilitate the dissolution of marriages in use your words..."to free troubled spouses from marital bondage", but to conserve such marriages as best as possible. A society can only be as strong as the families comprising it.

The primary concern of the State is the stability of its society. Spouses are enjoined to remain as such as long as possible, to rear children to be healthy in body, mind and spirit until, under circumstances prescribed by the law, they are legally separated or their marriage is annulled.



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