Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 23:5, pp. 741-759.

doi: 10.1177/0265407506068261


Copyright © 2006 SAGE Publications. Used by permission.


Using Giddens’s (1984) structuration theory, this study explored the communicative processes surrounding the divorce decree in coparenting relationships in stepfamilies. Participants included 21 adults who were coparenting children in stepfamilies who completed diary entries of all interactions with coparents over a 2-week period, and who completed follow-up interviews. Results revealed two structures of signification with respect to the divorce decree that enabled and constrained coparenting interactions. The first signification structure was one in which the decree was framed as a legal document, dictating the rights and responsibilities of parenting, especially with respect to child access and financial issues. The second signification structure was one in which the decree was viewed as a negotiating guide for more informal coparental decision-making processes.