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This article evaluates criticisms that have been made of the principle contained in section 1 of the Children Act 1989 that the welfare of the child should be the courts' paramount consideration in resolving disputes over a child's upbringing. In particular, it considers the complaints that the principle is unpredictable in its application, that it fails to adequately protect children's rights and that it does not pay sufficient attention to the interests of others. It is argued that these objections are not as strong as may at first appear and, that by adopting a relationship‐based approach to welfare, it is possible to provide a powerful defence of the principle.