How is the marriage property divided in legal separation?

by | Sep 6, 2017 | Family Law, Marriage Property

Couple carved from wood symbolizing married life. Marriage joins together lives and property.

Net profits of the conjugal property are given to the spouse without fault.

The rule in legal separation is that the spouse at fault shall have no right to any share of the net profits earned by the couple’s common property during the marriage. His or her share of the net profits is forfeited in favor of the children or the innocent spouse.

What does net profits mean? What does the spouse at fault actually forfeit?

What are net profits?

Net profits are the increase in value between the market value of the community property at the time of the celebration of the marriage and the market value at the time of its dissolution. This is the doctrine from Quiao vs. Quaio (2012).

Quiao was a case for legal separation filed by the wife against the husband. The spouses had no assets when they married in 1977. By the time of the legal separation, they had numerous valuable properties (land, several mills and a factory).

Industrial estate to depict the Quiao's assets, which were in coffee mills and a factory.

Quiaos had several assets at the time of separation.

Legal separation was granted in 2005, with the Trial Court finding that the husband was at fault. The husband, therefore, was held not entitled to any share of the net profits of the conjugal property.

The husband asked the Trial Court to clarify what net profits meant. The Trial Court ruled that, since the spouses had no assets when they married in 1977, this meant that all the assets inventoried in 2005 were deemed net profits to which the husband had forfeited his share.

A pizza divided into slices. All of the slices went to the wife as she was deemed the spouse without fault.

The husband no longer had a slice of the pie

The husband appealed the case to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court upheld the Trial Court.

Net Profit Computation under Absolute Community or Conjugal Partnership of Gains

The Supreme Court ruling explained how net profits were computed. The procedure depended on whether the marriage regime was one of absolute community or of conjugal partnership of gains.

(Conjugal partnership of gains governed marriages under the Civil Code. Absolute community has been the default setting for marriages since the Family Code came into effect in 1988.)

Absolute community means that all the assets before the marriage and any increase during the marriage are jointly owned by the spouses.

In absolute community, all the assets of the spouses are deemed conjugal property.

If the Quiao marriage were a regime of absolute community, net profits would be computed as follows:

(a) According to the trial court’s finding of facts, both husband and wife have no separate properties, thus, the remaining properties in the list above are all part of the absolute community. And its market value at the time of the dissolution of the absolute community constitutes the market value at dissolution.

(b) Thus, when the petitioner and the respondent finally were legally separated, all the properties which remained will be liable for the debts and obligations of the community. Such debts and obligations will be subtracted from the market value at dissolution.

All debts and obligations are paid from the assets of the marriage.

Debt is deducted from the total assets.

(c) What remains after the debts and obligations have been paid from the total assets of the absolute community constitutes the net remainder or net asset. And from such net asset/remainder of the petitioner and respondent’s remaining properties, the market value at the time of marriage will be subtracted and the resulting totality constitutes the net profits.

(d) Since both husband and wife have no separate properties, and nothing would be returned to each of them, what will be divided equally between them is simply the net profits. However, in the Decision dated October 10, 2005, the trial court forfeited the half-share of the petitioner in favor of his children. Thus, if we use Article 102 in the instant case (which should not be the case), nothing is left to the petitioner since both parties entered into their marriage without bringing with them any property.

Wedding rings on a pillow to illustrate the Quiao marriage, which was governed by the conjugal partnership of gains regime.

The Quiaos were married in 1977, when conjugal partnership of gains governed marriage property.

Net Profits Under the Conjugal Partnership of Gains

In this case, however, the Quiaos had gotten married in 1977. Therefore, the marriage was one of conjugal partnership of gains.

In a conjugal partnership of gains, husband and wife have his and her own property and debts. The law does not intend to effect a mixture or merger of those debts or properties between the spouses. It establishes a complete separation of capitals.

Instead, upon their marriage, the husband and the wife place in a common fund the fruits of their separate property and income. They divide equally the net gains or benefits obtained by either spouse during the marriage partnership.

In Quiao, the Supreme Court ruled that net profits in a conjugal partnership of gains would be computed as follows:

a An inventory of all the actual properties shall be made, separately listing the couple’s conjugal properties and their separate properties. In the instant case, the trial court found that the couple has no separate properties when they married. Rather, the trial court identified the following conjugal properties, to wit:

  1. coffee mill in Balongagan, Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte;
  2. coffee mill in Durian, Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte;
  3. corn mill in Casiklan, Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte;
  4. coffee mill in Esperanza, Agusan del Sur;
  5. a parcel of land with an area of 1,200 square meters located in Tungao, Butuan City;
  6. a parcel of agricultural land with an area of 5 hectares located in Manila de Bugabos, Butuan City;
  7. a parcel of land with an area of 84 square meters located in Tungao, Butuan City;
  8. Bashier Bon Factory located in Tungao, Butuan City.
The Quiao's assets grew significantly during their marriage, and these gains were considered commnuity property.

All the gains are considered net profits.

b Ordinarily, the benefit received by a spouse from the conjugal partnership during the marriage is returned in equal amount to the assets of the conjugal partnership; and if the community is enriched at the expense of the separate properties of either spouse, a restitution of the value of such properties to their respective owners shall be made.

c Subsequently, the couple’s conjugal partnership shall pay the debts of the conjugal partnership; while the debts and obligation of each of the spouses shall be paid from their respective separate properties. But if the conjugal partnership is not sufficient to pay all its debts and obligations, the spouses with their separate properties shall be solidarily liable.

Ledger showing that the totals in both calculations would have the same result

Both calculations result in the loss of property to the spouse at fault.

d Now, what remains of the separate or exclusive properties of the husband and of the wife shall be returned to each of them. In [Quiao], since it was already established by the trial court that the spouses have no separate properties, there is nothing to return to any of them. The listed properties above are considered part of the conjugal partnership. Thus, ordinarily, what remains in the above-listed properties should be divided equally between the spouses and/or their respective heirs. However, since the trial court found the petitioner the guilty party, his share from the net profits of the conjugal partnership is forfeited in favor of the common children, pursuant to Article 63(2) of the Family Code. Again, lest we be confused, like in the absolute community regime, nothing will be returned to the guilty party in the conjugal partnership regime, because there is no separate property which may be accounted for in the guilty party’s favor.


In conclusion, nothing was left to the husband of the numerous properties acquired during the marriage because of the following reasons.

Scrabble pieces spelling out the word bankrupt, as legal separation's consequences can be quite draconian.

The husband was left without any property.

  1. There had been no assets at the start of the marriage; and,
  2. He was the guilty party entitled to no part of the net profits at the dissolution of the property regime.

It’s quite draconian, but this 2012 doctrine has not been overturned.


Atty. Francesco Britanico


  1. Maricor Martinez

    Good day! Tanong ko lang po Atty, just in case na hiwalay na po ako sa asawa ko meron po ba akong makukuhang financial support mula sa kanya kung sakaling yung 3 naming anak edad 18, 16 at 4yrs old ay nasa akin lahat? Paano po? Ang property meron lang kame ay bahay. Siya lang po ang meron trabaho sa aming dalawa, permanent government employee po siya.

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      You will have a share in the property should you file a case.

      How much that share is depends on the situation and property regime you are under.

      • Edna

        Good day po Atty. Tanong ko po ,May karapatan po bang hatiin ng pngalawang asawa ng tatay ko ang property nmin?Since ang tatay ko po ay may mga anak pa po sa unang asawa 5 po kming anak Nya.Slamat po sa sa got.

      • Lawyers in the Philippines

        Hi Edna:

        I would need to know more about the situation to provide information.

        In general, all legitimate, illegitimate, adopted children and their legal spouses are heirs.

  2. Marie

    Good day po Atty. What is the best thing to do, I am legally married but no longer together for 8 years, now i want to purchase a property from a real estate and of course I do not want my husband to be a part of it. How can I make it possible? Please I need an advise. Thank you

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent an email.

      • Priscila

        Good morning po pwed p po ba magfile ng legal separation khit senior n age 63 and 68
        Dahil sa pauli ulit na pananakit
        At nagbenta po cy ng property matapos ako papirmahin e di po ako nabigyan ng share dahil pera nya daw po un ginasyos sa property na un at wala daw ako share dun kahit singko

      • Lawyers in the Philippines

        Sent an email.

      • Iwa

        Hi I have the same case and really need help to answer this question.Im in Canada and want to purchase condo in Philippines.But we’re no longer together for 8 years.And he already have family.Im just worried when he found out i have property he will ho after it.

      • Atty. Francesco Britanico

        Sent an email.

  3. Arlene

    Good morning atty, I have question po.. Kai po nga sawa ko nagkakalabuan napo dina po xa umuuwi ng bahay more a year napo and we don’t where he is staying po. Tanong ko lang po sana as a legal wife po ba pwed ko po ba syang habulin for my support wala po kaming anak, pero mga utang po namin ako po humaharap now like yong bahay po namin na malaki po ang arrears nya at may utang papo kami sa parents ko. Anu po ba mabuting gawin. Nag try napo ako ask ng support from him since ako napo humaharap ng utang sa bahay now kasi ayaw ko din mawala yong bahay nmin, e ayaw nya pong magbigay kahit onti po. At may motor papo pala kami atty na na acquire before but nakapangalan po sa Papa ko pero yong motor na yon nasa asawa ko po now at diko po alam if san napo kasi tnatago nya, pwede ko po ba yon makuha. Lastly po may lupa po sila noon nakasanla and then nung nagsasama papo kami kami po ang tumubos nun may karapatan po ba ako dun. Please guide me po.

    Thank you very much!

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Hi Arlene:

      It seems like there will be some case assessment needed.

      Try working with the PAO.

  4. KateH

    Married early because of pregnancy (college kami nuon, I was just 19). After 6-7 years of not living together, I found out that he was taking home some woman sa tinitirhan nyang bahay. I live with my kids sa parents house ko and yun pala dahilan bat ayaw nya kami mgsama sama. Their bahay-bahayan lasted for nearly a year and then may iba pang infidelity issues sa ibang woman. I cant rebuild the trust and we both decided to stop this and wait for divorce. For the time being na wala pang divorce gusto na sana namin ng legal separation. Wala kaming properties together pero may mga plano kami bumili separately. Ano po kayang pwede naming gawin. As of the moment ngssupport sya pero napakaliit para sa 2ng kids, we are about a year and a half separated. Please advise atty.

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent an email.

  5. Matthias

    Good day,

    I’m mariried with Filipino while I’m German.I found my wife cheating on me and now she’s starting already to live with another man.Our son is currrently living with me.He has dual citizenship.Over the last years we bought some properties and invest in a business in her home town.All paid by me.We got married in Philippines.Both of us signed Pre-Nuptial Agrrement. The questions I have is:
    1.What will happen with our child in case of annulment or divorce?
    2.What will happen with our properties in case of annulment or divorce?
    I hope to find answers here.
    Thank you.

    • Atty. Francesco Britanico

      Hi Matthias:

      Sent an email.

  6. Isabelito

    Good morning po! I am an OFW and my wife wants to end our marriage through legal separation. The reason is purely out of jealousy which she has no evidence. My questions are; 1) If in case she will insists on legal separation, how will our conjugal properties (both after our marriage in 1989) be divided? 2) I have 2 children, how it will affect to them as heirs? 3) In case my wife or me has an illegitimate children are they part of the heirs? Regards.

    • Atty. Francesco Britanico


      In many cases, it is best to go through annulment based on psychological incapacity.

      Legal separation does not end the marriage as it only addresses property in a rather combative way (Check out our posts on legal separation).

      If you go through annulment based on psychological incapacity, the children are still legitimate. The properties will likely be divided equally if they are conjugal properties. Illegitimate children are compulsory heirs of their parents (Please see our compulsory heirs post).

      Note please – the information above is based on the data you presented. It is best if you undertake a formal consultation.



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