‘Welfare talk’ is typically based on the argument that it is always in the interests of children’s welfare that they should have extensive contact with their fathers, even to the point of shared residence. As noted above, this is in line with government policy and also reflects the leanings of the courts and CAFCASS. Unlike ‘rights talk’, it is also a narrative which is much used by mothers and by all the professionals involved in contact and residence issues. In a way, it has become almost a mantra.
Nadeem: I don’t see those children as a trophy. I don’t see those children as a kind
of bargaining chip if you like. I just want to do what is best for them.
It is no longer clear how to read claims about welfare, since they can be harnessed to almost any style of parenting and any kind of arrangement. However, it is equally true that parents are obliged to frame their disputes in terms of which parent has the welfare of the child most closely at heart. It is therefore little more than a rhetorical device; yet if it is absent, then parents are seen as making illegitimate claims.