Family Law

Mom Spends a Night in Jail After Being Held in Contempt for Unilateral Decision to Baptize Son, 12

A Tennessee judge made international headlines by ordering a mother to spend a day in jail for violating a parenting contract by having her son baptized without first discussing the plan with her ex-husband.

Attorney J. Terry Holland, who represents the mother, Stephanie Miller, says both parents attended the December baptism of their 12-year-old son at Grace Baptist Church in Knoxville. He argued that the boy was old enough to decide for himself to be baptized, and he did, according to the Daily Mail and the Tennessean.

However, the father, Steven Miller, said he should have been given a chance to talk with his son about the baptism plan in advance, and Knox County Circuit Court Judge Bill Swann agreed that his ex-wife had breached the parenting contract by not including him in the decision.

“It’s not a case about baptism, or its desirability. It’s not about the boy’s desires,” Swann said. “It’s a case about what contract the parents made and had they lived up to the contract.”

Holland says an appeal is planned.

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