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In re S.P.M.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo

January 21, 2014

IN RE S.P.M., E.A.T. & C.S.T., CHILDREN

On Appeal from the 287th District Court Bailey County, Texas Trial Court No. 8411; Honorable Jack Graham, Presiding.

Before CAMPBELL and HANCOCK and PIRTLE, JJ.

MEMORA.NDUM OPINION

PATRICK A. PIRTLE, Justice.

This is an accelerated appeal wherein Appellants, Alex and Elizabeth, appeal the trial court's order terminating their parental rights to S.P.M., E.A.T. and C.S.T.[1]Elizabeth asserts (1) the evidence is legally and factually insufficient to terminate her parental rights regarding the children and termination is not in their best interest while Alex asserts (2) termination of his parental rights regarding E.A.T. and C.S.T. is not in their best interest.[2] We affirm.

Background

In September 2007, the children were removed from Alex and Elizabeth's home due to neglectful supervision and domestic violence issues.[3] The children were placed with relatives.[4] After an adversary hearing, the trial court found there was sufficient evidence of a continuing danger to the children's physical health or safety and remaining in the home was contrary to their welfare. Elizabeth and Alex were ordered "to comply with each requirement set out in the Department's original, or any amended, service plan during the pendency of [the] suit."[5] Both parents demonstrated partial compliance with the service plan in 2007 and 2008.

After relatives requested the children be removed in March 2009, the trial court temporarily returned the children to Elizabeth's home with the Department monitoring the placement. In April, the trial court found that the children were in danger from physical abuse and neglect and/or risk of further physical abuse and neglect from Elizabeth's and Alex's endangering conduct, acts or failures to act and were again removed. Prior to removal, Elizabeth told her caseworker that Alex had hit her and she was taking the children to a safe place. The Department suggested she take the children to her aunt's home or enter Women's Protective Services. She refused and subsequently returned with the children to live with Alex. During the thirty-seven days the children were under monitored return, S.P.M. had thirteen unexcused absences from kindergarten. The children were also unkempt and dirty. C.S.T. had what was originally thought to be diaper rash but turned out to be a yeast infection that required medical treatment, and S.P.M. complained that Alex rubbed jalapenos in her mouth.

In a subsequent Permanency Hearing Order, the trial court expressly incorporated the permanency plans for the children and service plans for the parents as findings of the court and made them part of the court's order. The trial court also issued an Order for Referral to Alternative Dispute Resolution and noticed trial would commence in October 2009.

Mediation was held resulting in a Rule 11 Agreement.[6] In the Agreement, the parties agreed the Department would place the children in foster care without terminating Alex's or Elizabeth's parental rights and postpone the upcoming trial. Elizabeth and Alex would serve as possessory conservators of their children with visitation under the Department's direction and they agreed to complete the services outlined in the Agreement. Under the Agreement, Elizabeth agreed to complete the following services:

1. Anger Management – Richard Gatlin – complete by 1/1/2010
2. Individual Counseling – Dr. Hoke – weekly
3. Update psychological – Dr. Basham – by 3/1/2010
4. Parenting as recommended by service provider – at least 12 hours.
5. Demonstrate appropriate parenting skills during supervised visits.
6. Maintain medication for depression. Sign release of information so information can be received from her physician.
7. Attend weekly supervised family visits for one hour consistently.
8. Attend regular drug test as requested.
9. [Elizabeth] will maintain full employment and will provide monthly verification of employment.
10. [Elizabeth] will maintain safe and stable housing adequate to ...

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