Money & Power
Should a Truly Rich Lady Get A Prenuptial Agreement?
What you need to know is that it is as practical as it is unromantic.
ILLUSTRATOR Yzabella Cruz
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Many moons ago, when I was on the brink of getting hitched, my Significant Other broached the idea of a prenuptial agreement. At that moment, I wanted to punch his sweet face because nothing kills the bloom of romance like the request for the protection of assets (especially when it is announced right after kissy-kissy time). It says that you are unsure and thus require an escape plan. Of course, I did not punch him in the face because I am a Truly Rich Lady, and the only punch I am familiar with is the kind in a silver Tiffany bowl. Instead, I gave him a peck on the cheek, told him I’d need time think about it, and went home. After emptying my lungs into a scream jar, I punched in the number of my Lady Lawyer who is also my BFF and asked for help. 

Lady Lawyer, who is also my BFF, why do I feel bad?
You might be slighted because a prenup usually presumes that the marriage will ultimately end. It gives the impression that Sweet Face is already thinking about how you will divide the property after the marriage.

Well, don’t stop there, my friend.
I didn’t want to say it, but a prenup usually implies that there is patent disparity when it comes to your and Sweet Face’s wealth. Not that I’m telling you that you lack anything, but your top is so last year’s pre-spring. 

Sure, compared to his fortune, I might as well be a hick who lives in a hovel. But I am no slouch when it comes to valuable assets that must be protected. That hovel is a Brutalist masterpiece just off a private golf course in the middle of the city by the way.
And that’s why you have to consider the advantages of having a prenuptial agreement and the reality that the marriage may possibly turn sour. It is better to be safe and ready, than sorry and homeless. You don’t want to part ways with your three-floor-only hovel, right?           

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Okay, LL, I’ll bite. Tell me what am I getting into?
In the simplest terms, a marriage settlement, more commonly known as a prenuptial agreement, is a contract executed by the future husband and the future wife concerning their future property relations. [1]

That’s so unromantic.
Also practical. Set aside your heart for a moment and consider these reasons why you should get one:

You should get a prenup if you have substantial assets you want to protect (real properties, businesses, time deposits, a hovel). Without a prenup, your future spouse will become co-owner of your properties.[2]

Which also means these assets may also be answerable for the debts contracted by your spouse prior to your marriage.[3]

You also may want to retain separate properties just so you can manage (as in sell or mortgage) them without the consent of your spouse.[4]

And again, in the event that you and the future hubby may wish to separate, as in cases of legal separation and annulment, prenups speed up the process of litigation because all the questions on property relations are already settled. It will be less work for me in the future.[5]

Your legalese upsets yet excites me. What can be included in this agreement?
To start, you can stipulate that properties exclusively owned before your marriage will not be included in your communal assets.[6]

You can also agree that, in the event of liquidation, the partition of the community property will not be equal.[7]

You can even design your own property regime. For example, you can have a mixed property setup wherein the spouses shall retain, as their own exclusive property, all their salaries earned during the marriage, but will consider any real properties purchased from the same as commonly owned, while all personal properties as exclusively owned.[8]

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And what’s not allowed?

If you stipulate that your marriage will conclude, terminate, or end after a certain number of years, such agreements are void. These matters are governed by law. Not a compromise. 

LL, help a friend out. What else should I know?
A tip? If you do decide to sign on the dotted line, make Sweet Face pay. Not by punching him in the face, but by asking him to settle the legal fees of both parties. It’s only courteous that whoever brings up the uncomfortable idea of a prenup, which opens up the awkward, not to mention tacky, discussion of worldly possessions and other financial matters, should settle the bill.

[1] Family Law in the Philippines by Legarda, Deriquito- Mawis and Vargas, 2013 Ed. at page 176.
[2] Art. 91 of the Family Code
[3] Arts. 94 and 121 of the Family Code
[4] Supra at note 2, at page 471
[5] http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/161606/so-whos-afraid-of-prenups/ (last accessed 18 November 2016)
[6] The rule is different when the first marriage is terminated by death and there was no liquidation of community property  of the 1st marriage. If you remarry, the regime of complete separation of property governs your subsequent marriage.
[7] Supra at note 2 at page 433
[8] Id. at page 434

*Town&Country consulted Atty. Diana Abigail Pano for this story. 

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C.C. Coo
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