Prenuptial agreement not a sign of mistrust, says lawyer

Former dean of the Ateneo De Manila University School of Law Cynthia Roxas-Del Castillo delivers her lecture during the 2022 St. Thomas More lecture via Zoom.

THE MISCONCEPTION that a prenuptial agreement reflects distrust should not prevent couples from signing such a contract as it would protect one’s property if a marriage fails, a former law dean said.

Cynthia Roxas-Del Castillo, former dean of the Ateneo De Manila University School of Law, said most people are not aware that they could control their property relations and would only realize the importance of their rights when their marriage ends.

“We should educate people that prenuptial agreement is not about having a lack of trust. It is simply availing the rights which are provided by law. There is nothing here that talks about distrust. The partner who has less resources will feel offended, but it is just a legal right that is available to everybody,” del Castillo said during the 54th St. Thomas More Lecture held last March 12.

Del Castillo noted that in a prenuptial agreement, both parties maintain their separate properties and there would be no joint or community assets after the celebration of marriage. However, the parties are required to contribute to family expenses.

“When people in this country get married, the great majority would neither think about the properties acquired before, during, or after marriage. After all, when one is very much in love, property has always been a non-issue. They begin to think about it only when things actually go wrong,” Del Castillo said.

Del Castillo said a prenuptial agreement also saves both parties from liquidating and partitioning assets, something that has to be done to declare a marriage as null. The process of liquidation and partition refers to converting the assets into cash and distributing the proceeds to the rightful creditors.

“Liquidation and partition of assets of a failed union is considered mandatory because this process must be completed; otherwise, the court will not issue the nullity of the marriage. The marriage will be rendered void if they do not complete the process of liquidation,” Del Castillo said.

“If you get married without a prenup, you are mandatorily governed by the system of absolute community of properties, and the only one that you can retain a separate property under this system is the properties you acquired before marriage,” she added.

Del Castillo is a senior partner and member of the executive board of the Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc and De Los Angeles Law Firm.  Her practice focuses on securities and corporate law, according to the law firm’s website.

The Faculty of Arts and Letters holds the lecture every year to honor its patron St. Thomas More, an English statesman and martyr known for his spiritual courage and political reputation. F – V. N. Yap

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