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Validity of donations between common-law spouses

Dear PAO,

My live-in partner donated a parcel of land in my favor sometime in 2019, but the title of the property remained under his name. When my partner died last year, his brother threatened me that he would cause the nullification of the donation because, according to him, it was invalid. I want to know if it is true that the said donation is invalid.


Dear Cristy,

Please be informed that Article 87 of Executive Order 209 s. 1987, otherwise known as «The Family Code of the Philippines,» provides:

«Art. 87. Every donation or grant of gratuitous advantage, direct or indirect, between the spouses during the marriage shall be void, except moderate gifts which the spouses may give each other on the occasion of any family rejoicing. The prohibition shall also apply to persons living together as husband and wife without a valid marriage.» (Emphasis supplied)

In the case of Maria B. Ching v. Joseph C. Goyangko, Jr., et al. (GR 165879, Nov. 10, 2006, Ponente: Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales), the Supreme Court ruled:

«The proscription against sale of property between spouses applies even to common law relationships. So this Court ruled in Calimlim-Canullas v. Hon. Fortun, etc., et al.:

»Anent the second issue, we find that the contract of sale was null and void for being contrary to morals and public policy. The sale was made by a husband in favor of a concubine after he had abandoned his family and left the conjugal home where his wife and children lived and from whence they derived their support. The sale was subversive of the stability of the family, a basic social institution which public policy cherishes and protects.

«Article 1409 of the Civil Code states inter alia that: contracts whose cause, object, or purposes is contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order, or public policy are void and inexistent from the very beginning.

»Article 1352 also provides that: 'Contracts without cause, or with unlawful cause, produce no effect whatsoever. The cause is unlawful if it is contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order, or public policy.'

«Additionally, the law emphatically prohibits the spouses from selling property to each other subject to