What is the difference between Conjugal Partnership of Gains and Absolute Community Property?

The difference lies in what goes into it, and when. If the property regime of the spouses is Conjugal Partnership of Gains (CPG), everything that the spouses owned before the marriage is their own property even after they are married. The properties belonging exclusively to the husband are referred to as capital property, while the properties belonging exclusively to the wife are called paraphernal property.

All of the fruits and income from their exclusive properties are the only things that become conjugal. Those exclusive properties remain exclusive until the marriage is dissolved.

Also, everything acquired by them during the marriage is conjugal - as a rule. The exception are properties that are acquired by either of them thru what is called "gratuitous title". These properties do not form part of the conjugal property. Examples of properties acquired by gratuitous title are properties donated to either spouse, or properties acquired by either of them thru inheritance.

Absolute Community Property (ACP), on the other hand, comprises of everything that the spouses bring into the marriage. It means that everything that the spouses owned prior to the marriage forms part of ACP when they marry.

There are a few exceptions. Properties acquired by gratuitous title do not form part of ACP. Also, if one of the parties has legitimate descendants by a former marriage, all properties acquired by him or her prior to the marriage also do not form part of ACP.

The important thing to note when dealing with the question of CPG and ACP is the date of marriage. If the parties got married BEFORE August 3, 1988, their default property relations is CGP. If they got married on August 3, 1988 or after, their default property relations is ACP.

Remember that you can choose what property relations govern your marriage. But you have to draw up what we call a Marriage Settlement prior to the celebration of the marriage. After the marriage is celebrated, the property relations cannot be changed anymore.