Transnational families between Dutch and Islamic family law. A study on transnational legal space
NWO - VIDI grant
2007 - 2013
In the rich and varied literature on transnational families, the role of the law in their everyday lives generally escapes attention. Although transnational families are in their everyday activities and relationships at least potentially influenced by multiple sets of laws and institutions (Levitt and Glick Schiller, 2004) which may involve plural and fundamentally different legal systems and normative orderings, we know relatively little about how transnational families are confronted with the law, how they use the law, and how it impacts their everyday lives. However, many life events, such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of children, are not just intimate family matters, but also legal matters. For members of transnational families, this often means dealing with legal systems from multiple countries.
This research project contributes to the academic research by drawing attention to the role of law. We did this by shedding light on how transnational Dutch-Moroccan and Dutch-Egyptian families relate to multiple family law systems in cases of marriage and divorce. How do family members experience the legal regulation of intimate relationships? How do they navigate between two family law systems and with what results?
We interviewed couples, divorcees, and parents living in Morocco, Egypt, or the Netherlands on their experiences with the different family law systems. This multi-sited research enabled us to study the reciprocal connections between the Netherlands and Morocco, and between the Netherlands and Egypt. Interviews took place in three sub-projects: one dealing with marriage and the legal relationships between parents and children (by Friso Kulk), transnational divorce (by Iris Sportel), and cross-border custody disputes (by Jessica Carlisle). In addition to the interviews with couples and family members, professionals involved in legal matters relevant to transnational families were interviewed, such as lawyers, embassy personnel, translators, and NGO representatives were interviewed.