Appeal from the 326th District Court Taylor County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. 8024-CX
consists of: Wright, C.J., Willson, J., and Bailey, J.
trial court entered an order in which it terminated the
parental rights of the parents of A.S. Both parents appeal;
each presents a single issue challenging the sufficiency of
the evidence as to the child's best interest. We affirm.
Standards and Findings
of parental rights must be supported by clear and convincing
evidence. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(b) (West Supp.
2016). To determine on appeal if the evidence is legally
sufficient in a parental termination case, we review all of
the evidence in the light most favorable to the finding and
determine whether a rational trier of fact could have formed
a firm belief or conviction that its finding was true. In
re J.P.B., 180 S.W.3d 570, 573 (Tex. 2005). To determine
if the evidence is factually sufficient, we give due
deference to the finding and determine whether, on the entire
record, a factfinder could reasonably form a firm belief or
conviction about the truth of the allegations against the
parent. In re C.H., 89 S.W.3d 17, 25-26 (Tex. 2002).
With respect to the best interest of a child, no unique set
of factors need be proved. In re C.J.O., 325 S.W.3d
261, 266 (Tex. App.-Eastland 2010, pet. denied). But courts
may use the non-exhaustive Holley factors to shape
their analysis. Holley v. Adams, 544 S.W.2d 367,
371-72 (Tex. 1976). These include, but are not limited to,
(1) the desires of the child, (2) the emotional and physical
needs of the child now and in the future, (3) the emotional
and physical danger to the child now and in the future, (4)
the parental abilities of the individuals seeking custody,
(5) the programs available to assist these individuals to
promote the best interest of the child, (6) the plans for the
child by these individuals or by the agency seeking custody,
(7) the stability of the home or proposed placement, (8) the
acts or omissions of the parent that may indicate that the
existing parent-child relationship is not a proper one, and
(9) any excuse for the acts or omissions of the parent.
Id. Additionally, evidence that proves one or more
statutory grounds for termination may also constitute
evidence illustrating that termination is in the child's
best interest. C.J.O., 325 S.W.3d at 266.
terminate parental rights, it must be shown by clear and
convincing evidence that the parent has committed one of the
acts listed in Section 161.001(b)(1)(A)-(T) and that
termination is in the best interest of the child. Fam. §
161.001(b). In this case, the trial court found that the
mother committed four of the acts listed in Section
161.001(b)(1)-those found in subsections (D), (E), (N), and
(O)-and that the father committed two of those acts-those
found in subsections (N) and (O). The trial court also found
that termination of each parent's rights would be in the
child's best interest. See id. §
161.001(b)(2). On appeal, neither parent challenges the
findings made pursuant to Section 161.001(b)(1); however,
both parents challenge the best interest findings.
and Analysis: Best Interest
parents assert that the evidence presented at trial was
insufficient to establish by clear and convincing evidence
that termination of their parental rights would be in
A.S.'s best interest and that the best interest of A.S.
would be served by appointing the parents as possessory
conservators. We disagree.
record shows that the Department of Family and Protective
Services removed A.S. from the parents based upon domestic
violence committed by the father against the mother and the
parents' use of drugs while A.S. was in their care. Both
parents were arrested while the Department was at the
parents' hotel room investigating the initial intake.
A.S. was less than three months old at that time, and she was
placed with her maternal great aunt.
mother, who had a history with the Department, partially
complied with her court-ordered family service plan, and the
Department attempted a monitored return to the mother. The
monitored return, however, was unsuccessful, and the child
was returned to the great aunt after less than three weeks.
The monitored return ended when the mother left A.S. with the
mother's grandmother and explained that she "just
couldn't do it anymore." The mother's drug use
obviously interfered with her ability to take care of A.S.;
the mother admitted that she continued to abuse
methamphetamine, although she testified that her drug of
choice was cocaine. As a result of her continued
methamphetamine use, the mother's visitations were
suspended sometime after the unsuccessful monitored return.
The mother agreed that, at the time of trial, A.S. was where
she needed to be because the mother was not a good candidate
to be a parent to A.S. at that time, but the mother did not
want her rights to be terminated as she hoped to find an
answer for her drug problem in the future.
evidence at trial shows that the father tested positive for
methamphetamine at the time of the removal and while this
case was pending. A police officer who was present at the
time of the removal and arrested the father for assault
family violence testified that the father appeared to be
"loaded on methamphetamine." The father did not
comply with his court-ordered family service plan, was in and
out of jail during these proceedings, and did not maintain
contact with the Department. The father did not regularly
visit the child; he may have attended "a couple" of
visits early on in this case. The father was incarcerated at
the time of the final hearing and did not testify at trial.
had lived with her maternal great aunt for nearly all of her
life; the mother and A.S. had even lived with the great aunt
upon being released from the hospital after A.S. was born.
According to the Department's supervisor, the great aunt
went "above and beyond" in this case and tried to
help the mother become the parent that she needed to be. The
great aunt even moved to Abilene and bought a house so that
the mother would not have to travel as far to see the child
and to otherwise try to help the mother. Ultimately, though,
the great aunt feared that the mother's "continuous
use of drugs" rendered her incapable of being a safe
caregiver for A.S. The great aunt believed that termination
of the parents' rights would be in the child's best
interest, but she also said that, if in the future the
parents were "in the right place" and had turned
their lives around, she might be willing to allow them to
have some sort of relationship with A.S. The great aunt had a
safe, stable, and loving home and desired to adopt A.S. A.S.
was bonded to the great aunt and her family. A.S. was doing
well in the great aunt's care and was developmentally on
case supervisor for the Department believed that termination
of the parents' rights and adoption by the great aunt
would be in A.S.'s best interest. The Department's
goal for A.S. was for her to be adopted by her great aunt.
The child's guardian ad litem ...