kris_aquino.jpgKris Aquino says she regrets not listening to her mom, the late Cory Aquino, when she gave her advice about her marriage, ABS-CBNNews.com reports. “My mom just said to me, I only ask you one thing: humingi ka ng prenup para ma-secure mo si Josh… Sana ‘wag sabihin ng tao matapobre ang pamilya namin or like that, hindi eh. My mom’s concern is that Josh is illegitimate; Josh is a special child who has so many needs,” she is quoted as saying.

Like Kris, many couples shy away from the idea of prenuptial agreements believing it to be a sign that the marriage will end eventually. Why protect your property from someone you love? If you are one of those people who think prenuptial agreements are only for the wary and the affluent, think again. A prenuptial agreement is a practical arrangement between spouses to protect, not just both of you, but the welfare of your children. It could even be considered a sign of trust—your husband won’t think you’re only after him for financial gain if you’ve specified from the beginning which properties you will own separately.

Worried about whether or not you should invest in a prenuptial agreement? Get the lowdown on these special contracts with this primer from Female Network.


WHAT IS A PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT?

According to Atty. Anna May Crisostomo-Ofilas of the Natividad, Crisostomo & Lopez law firm, a prenuptial agreement is simply a marriage settlement before the actual marriage. It is usually used to define which properties belong to whom during and after the relationship especially in, but not limited to, the event of separation or annulment.



WHY SHOULD YOU GET ONE?

1. IT PROTECTS YOUR PROPERTY

Without a prenuptial agreement, your property will be divided using the system of absolute community. That is, as Atty. Crisostomo says, “[The] husband and the wife are considered as co-owners of all properties they bring into the marriage–properties that they owned before the marriage and those properties as well that are acquired during the marriage, except for certain properties expressly excluded by law. The community property shall consist of all the property owned by the spouses at the time of the celebration of the marriage or acquired thereafter.”

The Family Code of the Philippines specifies a few exceptions to the system such as money that was donated to you or that you inherited, personal property (except for jewelry), and property acquired in the past that can be inherited by children from a previous marriage.

This means anything else that isn’t covered by the exceptions will turn into conjugal property like that car you bought for yourself as a bachelorette gift or his PSP that he got using your joint credit card. With a prenuptial agreement, you can specify which properties you would like to declare as your own as well as divide your current properties and anything you will acquire during your marriage.


2. IT PROTECTS YOUR CHILDREN

The system of absolute community protects the rights of your children with your spouse as well as legitimate children you both may have had from previous marriages. However, it fails to provide for illegitimate children. With a prenup, you can protect your child’s rights and make sure he or she gets support in the event that the marriage dissolves.

You can also provide extra provisions for your children from a previous marriage in the agreement to  clearly outline division of property, Atty. Crisostomo says. "[This is so that] the children are not deprived of their rights when the surviving spouse lays claim to the assets of the marriage.” Atty. Marichu Lambino explains in a blog entry, your assets become co-owned as soon as you enter a new marriage. Thus, if you die, your property that would have all been inherited by your first born from a previous marriage will have to be divided between him and your new family. Your husband gets fifty percent while all your children will have to share the rest.


3. IT PROTECTS YOU FROM DEBT

Among the things that become joint property after marriage are debts, both previously acquired and incurred during marriage, Atty. Crisostomo notes. If you don’t make provisions for handling debts via a prenuptial agreement, you might end up having to pay for your husband’s liabilities like unpaid credit card bills or his installment payments for his car.

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Getting ready to that next step? Atty. Crisostomo has these two things for you to keep in mind when drafting your prenup:

  1. Remember that you and your spouse can state any provisions you desire as long as they are within the law.
  2. Make sure everything is clear and complete. A prenup requires the full disclosure of assets and liabilities of the parties.


(Photo courtesy of PEP.ph)

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