Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo
Appeal from the 320th District Court Potter County, Texas,
Trial Court No. 86, 941-D, Honorable Carry Baker, Presiding.
QUINN, C.J., and CAMPBELL and PIRTLE, JJ.
T. CAMPBELL JUSTICE.
the father of A.O.,  appeals from a final order terminating his
parental rights to A.O. Through two issues, L.G. challenges
the sufficiency of the evidence supporting termination. We
will affirm the order of the trial court.
female child, was born in December 2014. In April 2015, A.O.
was removed from the care of the man the Texas Department of
Family and Protective Services believed to be her biological
father and his wife. A.O. was removed after an
allegation of neglectful supervision of the child by the
alleged father and an allegation, later confirmed by a drug
screen, that his wife was using methamphetamine while caring
for the child. At that time, both A.O.'s mother and
L.G., A.O.'s biological father, were incarcerated. The
Department filed several pleadings, including an order for
protection of a child in an emergency and an original
petition for protection of a child. It later filed an amended
petition seeking conservatorship and, in the alternative,
termination of the parent-child relationship of A.O.'s
mother and L.G to A.O. The Department alleged termination of
L.G.'s parental rights to A.O. was proper under several
grounds but, at the final hearing, proceeded only on the
ground set forth in section 161.001(b)(1)(Q). See
Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(b)(1)(Q) (West 2016).
final hearing held in the summer of 2016, L.G. appeared only
through counsel. At that time, A.O. had lived with her
foster parents since her April 2015 removal. During the final
hearing, a Department caseworker testified that in January
2016, she learned from A.O.'s mother that L.G. might be
the father of A.O. The caseworker testified she notified L.G.
who then had a release date of sometime in 2018. Paternity
testing later showed L.G. to be the father of A.O. At the
final hearing, the Department introduced, among its other
evidence, proof of L.G.'s prior convictions and elicited
testimony from the caseworker that those offenses were
"assaultive in nature."
hearing the evidence presented, the trial court concluded
clear and convincing evidence existed to support the
termination of L.G.'s parental rights to A.O. under
section 161.001(b)(1)(Q) and found by the same standard
termination was in A.O.'s best interest. On appeal,
appellant challenges both of the trial court's findings.
Constitution protects "[t]he fundamental liberty
interest of natural parents in the care, custody, and
management" of their children. Santosky v.
Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 753, 102 S.Ct. 1388, 71 L.Ed.2d
599 (1982); Holick v. Smith, 685 S.W.2d 18, 20 (Tex.
1985). Parental rights, however, are not absolute, and courts
have recognized it is essential that the emotional and
physical interests of a child not be sacrificed merely to
preserve the parental rights. In re C.H., 89 S.W.3d
17, 26 (Tex. 2002). The Due Process Clause of the United
States Constitution and section 161.001 of the Texas Family
Code require application of the heightened standard of clear
and convincing evidence in cases involving involuntary
termination of parental rights. In re E. N.C., 384
S.W.3d 796, 802 (Tex. 2012); In re J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d
256, 263 (Tex. 2002). Clear and convincing evidence is that
measure or degree of proof which will produce in the mind of
the trier of fact a firm belief or conviction as to the truth
of the allegations sought to be established. Tex. Fam. Code
Ann. § 101.007 (West 2014); In re C.H., 89
S.W.3d at 25-26.
Texas Family Code permits a trial court to terminate parental
rights if the Department proves by clear and convincing
evidence that the parent committed an action prohibited under
section 161.001(b)(1) and termination is in the child's
best interest. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(b)(2);
Holley v. Adams, 544 S.W.2d 367, 370 (Tex. 1976).
Only one predicate finding under section 161.001(b)(1) is
necessary to support an order of termination when there is
also a finding that termination is in the child's best
interest. In re A.V., 113 S.W.3d 355, 362 (Tex.
2003); In re T.N., 180 S.W.3d 376, 384 (Tex.
App.-Amarillo 2005, no pet.). Thus, a termination order may
be affirmed if it is supported by legally and factually
sufficient evidence of any statutory ground on which the
trial court relied for termination, and the best interest
finding. In re E.A.G., 373 S.W.3d 129, 141 (Tex.
App.-San Antonio 2012, pet. denied).
the legal sufficiency analysis, we examine all of the
evidence in the light most favorable to the challenged
finding, assuming the "factfinder resolved disputed
facts in favor of its finding if a reasonable factfinder
could do so." In re J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d at 266.
We disregard all contrary evidence the factfinder could have
reasonably disbelieved or found incredible. Id.
However, we take into account undisputed facts that do not
support the finding, so as not to "skew the analysis of
whether there is clear and convincing evidence."
Id. If the record presents credibility issues, we
must defer to the factfinder's determinations provided
they are not unreasonable. In re J.P.B., 180 S.W.3d
570, 573 (Tex. 2005).
of the factual sufficiency of evidence supporting termination
of parental rights requires "an exacting review of the
entire record." In re A.B., 437 S.W.3d 498, 500
(Tex. 2014). In a factual sufficiency review, we must give
due consideration to the evidence the factfinder could
reasonably have found to be clear and convincing. In re
C.H., 89 S.W.3d at 25. We determine whether the evidence
is such that a factfinder could reasonably form a firm belief
or conviction about the truth of the Department's
allegations. Id. In doing so we consider whether
disputed evidence is such that a reasonable factfinder could
not have resolved that disputed evidence in favor of its
finding. Id. If, in light of the entire record, the
disputed evidence that a reasonable factfinder could not have
credited in favor of the finding is so significant that a
factfinder could not reasonably have formed a firm belief or
conviction, then the evidence is factually insufficient.
In re J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d at 266.
is a strong presumption that keeping a child with a parent is
in the child's best interest. In re R.R., 209
S.W.3d 112, 116 (Tex. 2006). But prompt and permanent
placement of a child in a safe environment is also presumed
to be in the child's best interest. Tex. Fam. Code Ann.
§ 263.307(a) (West 2008). The best interest analysis
evaluates the best interest of the child, not that of the
parent. In the Interest of A.C.B.,198 S.W.3d 294,
298 (Tex. App.-Amarillo 2006, no pet.). The following factors
are among those the court may consider in determining the
best interest of a child: (A) the desires of the child; (B)
the emotional and physical needs of the child now and in the
future; (C) the emotional and physical danger to the child
now and in the future; (D) the parental abilities of the
individuals seeking custody; (E) the programs available to
assist these individuals to promote the best interests of the
child; (F) the plans for the child by these individuals or by
the agency seeking custody; (G) ...