Court of Appeals of Texas, Twelfth District, Tyler
from the County Court at Law of Cherokee County, Texas
consisted of Worthen, C.J., Hoyle, J., and Neeley, J.
T. Worthen Chief Justice
appeals the termination of her parental rights. In four
issues, she challenges the legal and factual sufficiency of
the evidence to support the trial court's termination
order. We affirm.
the mother of Q.W., III. On September 3, 2015, the Department of
Family and Protective Services (the Department) filed an
original petition for protection of Q.W., III, for
conservatorship, and for termination of L.G.'s parental
rights. The Department was appointed temporary managing
conservator of the child, and L.G. was appointed temporary
possessory conservator with limited rights and duties to the
conclusion of the trial on the merits, the trial court found,
by clear and convincing evidence, that L.G. had engaged in
one or more of the acts or omissions necessary to support
termination of her parental rights under subsections (E),
(N), and (O) of Texas Family Code section 161.001(b)(1). The
trial court also found that termination of the parent-child
relationship between L.G. and Q.W., III was in the
child's best interest. Based on these findings, the trial
court ordered that the parent-child relationship between L.G.
and Q.W., III be terminated. This appeal followed.
of Parental Rights
termination of parental rights embodies fundamental
constitutional rights. Vela v. Marywood, 17 S.W.3d
750, 759 (Tex. App.-Austin 2000), pet. denied per
curiam, 53 S.W.3d 684 (Tex. 2001); In re J.J.,
911 S.W.2d 437, 439 (Tex. App.-Texarkana 1995, writ denied).
Because a termination action "permanently sunders"
the bonds between a parent and child, the proceedings must be
strictly scrutinized. Wiley v. Spratlan, 543 S.W.2d
349, 352 (Tex. 1976); In re Shaw, 966 S.W.2d 174,
179 (Tex. App.-El Paso 1998, no pet.).
161.001 of the family code permits a court to order
termination of parental rights if two elements are
established. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001 (West Supp.
2016); In re J.M.T., 39 S.W.3d 234, 237 (Tex.
App.-Waco 1999, no pet.). First, the parent must have engaged
in any one of the acts or omissions itemized in the second
subsection of the statute. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §
161.001(b)(1) (West Supp. 2016); Green v. Tex. Dep't
of Protective & Regulatory Servs., 25 S.W.3d 213,
219 (Tex. App.-El Paso 2000, no pet.); In re J.M.T.,
39 S.W.3d at 237. Second, termination must be in the best
interest of the child. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §
161.001(b)(2) (West Supp. 2016); In re J.M.T., 39
S.W.3d at 237. Both elements must be established by clear and
convincing evidence, and proof of one element does not
alleviate the petitioner's burden of proving the other.
Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001; Wiley, 543
S.W.2d at 351; In re J.M.T., 39 S.W.3d at 237.
clear and convincing standard for termination of parental
rights is both constitutionally and statutorily mandated.
Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001; In re J.J., 911
S.W.2d at 439. Clear and convincing evidence means "the
measure or degree of proof that 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). The burden of proof is
upon the party seeking the deprivation of parental rights.
In re J.M.T., 39 S.W.3d at 240.
confronted with both a legal and factual sufficiency
challenge, an appellate court must first review the legal
sufficiency of the evidence. Glover v. Tex. Gen. Indem.
Co., 619 S.W.2d 400, 401 (Tex. 1981); In re
M.D.S., 1 S.W.3d 190, 197 (Tex. App.-Amarillo 1999, no
pet.). In conducting a legal sufficiency review, we must look
at all the evidence in the light most favorable to the
finding to determine whether a reasonable trier of fact could
have formed a firm belief or conviction that its findings
were true. In re J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d 256, 266 (Tex.
2002). We must assume that the fact finder settled disputed
facts in favor of its finding if a reasonable fact finder
could do so and disregard all evidence that a reasonable fact
finder could have disbelieved or found incredible.
appropriate standard for reviewing a factual sufficiency
challenge to the termination findings is whether the evidence
is such that a fact finder could reasonably form a firm
belief or conviction about the truth of the petitioner's
allegations. In re C.H., 89 S.W.3d 17, 25 (Tex.
2002). In determining whether the fact finder has met this
standard, an appellate court considers all the evidence in
the record, both that in support of and contrary to the trial
court's findings. Id. at 27-29. Further, an
appellate court should consider whether disputed evidence is
such that a reasonable fact finder could not have reconciled
that disputed evidence in favor of its finding. In re
J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d at 266. The trier of fact is the
exclusive judge of the credibility of the witnesses and the
weight to be given their testimony. Nordstrom v.
Nordstrom, 965 S.W.2d 575, 580 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st
Dist.] 1997, pet. denied).
Under Section 16.001(b)(1)(E)
first issue, L.G. contends the evidence is legally and
factually insufficient to terminate her parental rights
pursuant to subsection (E) of Texas Family Code section