Court of Appeals of Texas, Third District, Austin
THE DISTRICT COURT OF TRAVIS COUNTY, 200TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT
NO. D-1-FM-15-003243, HONORABLE LORA LIVINGSTON, JUDGE
Chief Justice Rose, Justices Field and Bourland.
Rose, Chief Justice.
P.C. appeals the trial court's order terminating her
parental rights to her child, A.C. In her sole issue, P.C.
challenges the legal and factual sufficiency of the evidence
supporting the trial court's determination that
termination of her parental rights was in the best interest
of her child. See Tex. Fam. Code §
161.001(b)(2). We will affirm the judgment of the trial
gave birth to A.C. in May 2015, and shortly thereafter, the
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TDFPS)
sought to remove A.C. from P.C.'s care. At the time, P.C.
had a pending termination case with regard to her three older
children, and her parental rights to those older children
were terminated in June 2015. In that case, the court found
that P.C. knowingly placed or allowed the children to be
placed in conditions that endangered their physical or
emotional well-being and that P.C. had a mental or emotional
illness that rendered her unable to provide for the physical,
emotional, and mental needs of the children. The trial court
also found that termination of P.C.'s rights with respect
to the three children was in the children's best
interest. TDFPS then sought termination of P.C.'s rights
to A.C. based on the prior termination order. On November 8,
2016, after a bench trial, the trial court terminated
P.C.'s parental rights to A.C., finding that P.C.'s
parental rights had previously been terminated and that
termination of her rights was in A.C.'s best interest.
This appeal followed.
terminate the parent-child relationship, there must be clear
and convincing evidence that the parent committed one or more
of the acts specifically set forth in Family Code section
161.001(1) and that termination is in the child's best
interest. See Tex. Fam. Code §§ 161.001,
.206(a); see also Texas Dep't of Human Servs. v.
Boyd, 727 S.W.2d 531, 533 (Tex. 1987) (both elements
must be established). Evidence is clear and convincing if it
"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 §
101.007. Due process demands this heightened standard because
of the fundamental interests at issue. In re J.F.C.,
96 S.W.3d 256, 263 (Tex. 2002).
appeal, we apply a standard of review that reflects this
clear-and-convincing burden of proof. Id. at 264-66.
If the legal sufficiency of the evidence supporting
termination is challenged, we consider all of the evidence in
the light most favorable to the termination finding and
determine whether a reasonable factfinder could have formed a
firm conviction that the finding was true. Id. at
266. In reviewing the factual sufficiency of the evidence, we
must give due consideration to evidence that a factfinder
could reasonably have found to be clear and convincing.
Id. (citing In re C.H., 89 S.W.3d 17, 25
(Tex. 2002)). We must also consider the disputed evidence and
determine whether a factfinder could have reasonably resolved
that evidence in favor of the finding. Id. We must
give due deference to the fact finder's findings and not
supplant the judgment with our own. In re H.R.M.,
209 S.W.3d 105, 108 (Tex. 2006).
is a strong presumption that the best interest of a child
will be served by preserving the parent-child relationship.
See In re R.R., 209 S.W.3d 112, 116 (Tex. 2006). In
determining a child's best interest, the factfinder may
consider a number of factors, including the desires of the
child, the present and future physical and emotional needs of
the child, the present and future emotional and physical
danger to the child, the parental abilities of the person
seeking custody, programs available to assist those persons
in promoting the child's best interest, plans for the
child by those individuals, the acts or omissions of the
parent that may indicate that the existing parent-child
relationship is not appropriate, and any excuse for the acts
or omissions of the parent. Holley v. Adams, 544
S.W.2d 367, 371-72 (Tex. 1976). TDFPS need not prove all nine
Holley factors, and the absence of some factors does
not bar the factfinder from finding by clear and convincing
evidence that termination is in a child's best interest.
In re C.H., 89 S.W.3d at 27. While no one factor is
controlling, analysis of a single factor may be adequate in a
particular factual situation to support a finding that
termination is in the child's best interest. Spurck
v. Texas Dep't of Family & Protective Servs.,
396 S.W.3d 205, 222 (Tex. App.-Austin 2013, no pet.). The
focus of the inquiry is on the best interest of the child,
not the best interest of the parent. See A.L. v. Texas
Dep't of Family & Protective Servs., No.
03-13-00610-CV, 2014 WL 641456, at *3 (Tex. App.-Austin Feb.
13, 2014, no pet.) (mem. op.). However, parental rights may
not be terminated merely because a child might be better off
living elsewhere. Id.
contends that the evidence was legally and factually
insufficient to support a finding that terminating her
parental rights was in the child's best
interest. Although A.C. is too young to express her
desires, in such cases a court may consider the quality and
extent of the child's relationship with the prospective
placements. See L.Z. v. Texas Dep't of Family &
Protective Servs., No. 03-12-00113-CV, 2012 WL 3629435,
at *10 (Tex. App.-Austin Aug. 23, 2012, no pet.) (mem. op.)
(considering quality and extent of young children's
relationship with prospective placements); In re
U.P., 105 S.W.3d 222, 230 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th
Dist.] 2003, pet. denied) (considering evidence that child
was well cared for by foster family, had bonded with them,
and spent minimal time with parent in assessing toddler's
desires). Here, A.C. was placed with P.C.'s cousin, V.R.
There was evidence that A.C. was doing well in V.R.'s
care, that they had bonded well, and that V.R. wanted to
adopt A.C. Additionally, while in V.R.'s care, A.C's
medical and developmental needs were being addressed with
routine physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational
therapy, and other medical visits, and A.C. had shown
significant improvements in those areas.
respect to A.C.'s present and future emotional needs and
physical needs, there was evidence that P.C. had historically
been unable to provide a stable living situation as
demonstrated by the prior termination of her parental rights
to three other children. Her caseworker testified that P.C.
continued to be unable to provide a stable living situation
for A.C. as she was not able to care for herself and that
termination of P.C.'s rights was in A.C.'s best
interest. Moreover, with regard to the parenting abilities of
P.C., there was testimony that P.C. had been diagnosed with
Schizoaffective Disorder Bipolar Type and that, even with the
services provided by TDFPS, she was not currently mentally
stable, did not regularly take her prescribed psychiatric
medication, and continued to have paranoid tendencies and
delusions. Testimony also established that she had not sought
consistent prenatal care when she became pregnant again
during the pendency of this case and that she had not
otherwise received proper medical care for herself for an
infection of a piercing.
support of her argument that the court should have granted
P.C. possessory conservatorship rather than terminating her
rights, P.C. argues that there was testimony that A.C.'s
maintaining a relationship with her biological parent would
be beneficial. While this may be true, there was also
sufficient evidence to support a finding that, despite
receiving services during the pendency of this case, P.C. had
not progressed to a point where she could properly care for
herself or provide a stable situation for A.C. Furthermore,
V.R. testified that, if she were to adopt A.C., she would be
willing to allow contact between P.C. and A.C. when P.C. was
mentally able, which would allow P.C. to maintain a presence
in A.C.'s life while also providing A.C. with stability
that P.C. was unable to consistently provide.
light of the entirety of the evidence in the record, a
reasonable factfinder could have formed a firm belief or
conviction that termination of P.C.'s parental rights was
in A.C.'s best interest. Further, a factfinder could have
reasonably resolved any disputed evidence in favor of the
finding that termination was in the best interest of the
child. We conclude that the evidence was legally and
factually sufficient to support the trial ...