Pursuant to Article 160 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, all property of the marriage is presumed to belong to the conjugal partnership, unless it be proved that it pertains exclusively to the husband or to the wife. Although it is not necessary to prove that the property was acquired with funds of the partnership, proof of acquisition during the marriage is an essential condition for the operation of the presumption in favor of the conjugal partnership. In the case of Francisco vs. Court of Appeals, this Court categorically ruled as follows:
Article 160 of the New Civil Code provides that "all property of the marriage is presumed to belong to the conjugal partnership, unless it be proved that it pertains exclusively to the husband or to the wife." However, the party who invokes this presumption must first prove that the property in controversy was acquired during the marriage. Proof of acquisition during the coverture is a condition sine qua non for the operation of the presumption in favor of the conjugal partnership. The party who asserts this presumption must first prove said time element. Needless to say, the presumption refers only to the property acquired during the marriage and does not operate when there is no showing as to when property alleged to be conjugal was acquired. Moreover, this presumption in favor of conjugality is rebuttable, but only with strong, clear and convincing evidence; there must be a strict proof of exclusive ownership of one of the spouses.
As the parties invoking the presumption of conjugality under Article 160 of theCivil Code, the Dela Peñas did not even come close to proving that the subject property was acquired during the marriage between Antonia and Antegono. Beyond Antonia’s bare and uncorroborated assertion that the property was purchased when she was already married, the record is bereft of any evidence from which the actual date of acquisition of the realty can be ascertained. When queried about the matter during his cross-examination, even
Not having established the time of acquisition of the property, the Dela Peñas insist that the registration thereof in the name of “Antonia R. Dela Peña, of legal age, Filipino, married to Antegono A. Dela Peña” should have already sufficiently established its conjugal nature. Confronted with the same issue in the case Ruiz vs. Court of Appeals, this Court ruled, however, that the phrase “married to” is merely descriptive of the civil status of the wife and cannot be interpreted to mean that the husband is also a registered owner. Because it is likewise possible that the property was acquired by the wife while she was still single and registered only after her marriage, neither would registration thereof in said manner constitute proof that the same was acquired during the marriage and, for said reason, to be presumed conjugal in nature. “Since there is no showing as to when the property in question was acquired, the fact that the title is in the name of the wife alone is determinative of its nature as paraphernal, i.e., belonging exclusively to said spouse.”
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