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Interacting Legal Norms and Cross-Border Divorce: Stories of Filipino Migrant Women in the Netherlands

Asuncion Fresnoza-Flot

Abstract

The Philippines is one of only two states in the world in which absolute divorce remains largely impossible. Through its family laws, it regulates the marriage, family life and conjugal separation of its citizens, including its migrants abroad. To find out how these family laws interact with those in the receiving country of Filipino migrants and shape their lives, the present paper examines the case of Filipino women who experienced or are undergoing divorce in the Netherlands. Drawing from semi-structured interviews and an analysis of selected divorce stories, it unveils the intertwined institutions of marriage and of divorce, the constraints but also possibilities that interacting legal norms bring in the life of Filipino women, and the way these migrants navigate such norms within their transnational social spaces. These findings contribute interesting insights into cross-border divorces in the present age of global migration.

Keywords

legal norms; cross-border divorce; “mixed’ couples; transnational social spaces; agency

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