Have you recently gotten engaged to your boyfriend or girlfriend? Chances are that you’ve already researched about the documents and processes that you will need for your future wedding. Among the marriage licenses, birth certificates, permits and other church wedding or civil wedding requirements that you’ll need in the Philippines, there’s another document that you may have come across in your research: prenuptial agreements.
While the talks of finances may not be in your initial plan in the topics that you’d want to discuss with your partner, it is a responsible conversation to take part in before the two of you get married. In essence, marriage is a binding contract that will permanently link your identities and combine your finances and assets irreversibly (in most cases). In this article, we will discuss what a prenuptial agreement is in the Philippines and why you should consider having one before formally choosing your wedding date.
What Is a Prenuptial Agreement in the Philippines?
In the Philippines, prenuptial agreements are only now increasing in popularity as more couples familiarize themselves with their benefits and potential uses. While it has been around and used for years, engaged couples have veered away from the topic because of the supposed taboo nature of prenuptial agreements in Filipino families. However, prenuptial agreements are actually aimed to protect both husband and wife along with the properties, finances, and assets that they may carry into the marriage, including real estate, jewelries, and inheritance.
Prenuptial agreements are Philippine contracts that are written and signed by the engaged couple before the wedding, which detail all possible properties and assets that both individuals may have. The prenuptial agreement will clearly state what will happen to these properties in case the two separate or if one of them passes. A prenuptial agreement also protects both parties from debts incurred during the marriage, preventing their better half from being responsible to pay off the debts in the absence of his or her partner.
What Happens if I Don’t Have a Prenuptial Agreement in the Philippines?
Following a marriage agreement, all your premarital properties, assets, and finances become conjugal property if you don’t have a prenuptial agreement in place in the Philippines. In the event that you separate or have your marriage annulled, all your properties will be divided according to the law regardless of who owned these assets before the marriage.
While some couples amicably separate and are able to settle their scores with properties they own, some couples aren’t lucky, though. In some cases, conflict may arise and cause significant distress for all parties after separation.
Can We Do Our Own Prenuptial Agreement?
Prenuptial agreements are typically done in the presence of a lawyer, but couples can easily make a draft of their prenup agreement to make the process easier. Have a comprehensive list of all properties that you’d want to be set on paper, or you may also do a general prenuptial agreement that covers all your properties as individuals. For a prenuptial agreement to be binding and valid in the Philippine law, it needs to be notarized by administering officers pursuant to law and lawyers with notarial commissions.
How Do You Register a Prenuptial Agreement in the Philippines?
Prenuptial agreements in the Philippines can easily be drafted and submitted to the local Civil Registry as long as you’re familiar with the process. Here’s a rough step-by-step guide to help you navigate the prenuptial agreement registration in the Philippines:
- Discuss the prenuptial agreement and subsequent clauses that you may want to include with your partner.
- Seek the professional advice of a contract lawyer to put your prenuptial agreement in writing. In some cases, couples may get separate lawyers to review and represent each other as the prenuptial agreement is being written.
- Sign the prenuptial agreement together with two witnesses.
- Have the prenuptial agreement notarized and registered to your local Civil Registry and the Registry of Deeds.
You will have to pay a few bucks to have your prenuptial agreement in the Philippines registered, with fees reaching up to about PHP2,000, on top of the lawyers’ fees.
Can You Get a Prenuptial Agreement Without Your Spouse Knowing?
One thing you need to understand with the registration of prenuptial agreements in the Philippines is that they need to be mutually entered into by both parties of the future marriage. You cannot make a prenuptial agreement that only protects your own assets, or specifically targets the properties of your family. The same goes for coercion. Your partner cannot be coerced into signing a prenuptial agreement or forced to agree to one. The two of you need to be on the same page, and you need to know what the prenuptial agreement will cover for the both of you.
Both of your inputs should be included in the prenuptial agreement so that you will know how your properties and debts will be inherited after separation or after death.
Is a Prenuptial Agreement in the Philippines Permanent?
Prenuptial agreements in the Philippines are permanently binding but may be changed and revised to ensure that it remains updated depending on your needs. While you might be tempted to forget the prenuptial agreement altogether after both of you are married, it’s actually recommended that you update the prenup every few years depending on the properties that you’ve accumulated during your marriage.
Who Typically Gets Prenuptial Agreements?
There are numerous reasons why couples choose to have prenuptial agreements, whether it’s to protect a potential inheritance or a business they own. Here are some of the most common reasons why couples draft prenuptial agreements in the Philippines:
One of them has more debt than the other
Considered one of the top reasons why prenuptial agreements are drafted and registered, the prevention of debt from being passed over to the wife or husband can be agreed upon through a prenuptial agreement. If your partner or you have significantly higher debt amounts, a prenuptial agreement can stop you from being responsible for paying back the loans even after marriage.
Both parties own separate businesses
In some instances, couples choose to have prenuptial agreements to separate the individual businesses they’ve established on their own before marriage. This will protect their businesses from being conjugal property that will be divided if they separate in the future.
One or both parties have children from previous relationships
Getting a prenuptial agreement in the Philippines can help couples ensure that their children from previous relationships will inherit their properties and assets if they pass. This will prevent disputes and possible problems when it comes to inheritance and succession.
One party has significant wealth
Couples with a significant disparity in wealth also enter prenuptial agreements to protect the other party’s properties and assets and ensure that the finances and wealth stay within the bloodline in the event of an annulment. In a way, a prenuptial agreement may also assure both parties that none of them are marrying for money or the promise of a better lifestyle.
If you don’t fall under any of these categories or instances, this doesn’t mean that you won’t benefit from a prenuptial agreement. If you’re toying with the idea of getting a prenuptial agreement in the Philippines, consider talking to your future husband or wife about the possibility. Don’t wait to talk about finances and properties until after you’re already married.
Prenuptial Agreements Shouldn’t Be Taboo for Couples
As you’re planning your wedding and compiling all the requirements for your church wedding, the idea of getting a prenuptial agreement in the Philippines may have crossed your mind. For some people, the possibility may have been introduced to you by your parents or your relatives. While the idea may be seen in the Philippines as taboo or as a prediction of a failed marriage, having a prenuptial agreement is actually logical for a lot of people, and may even make marriages better since there will be financial transparency even before the marriage is legalized.
Talk with your partner and be open about why you want to register for a prenuptial agreement and why you think it would be a good move for the both of you. We hope that this article has shed some light on your understanding of prenuptial agreements in the Philippines! Good luck!
Author: Donna Santiago
Donna spends 50% of her time writing, and the other 50% napping, snacking, or befriending stray cats.