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In re G.A.M.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

June 7, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF G.A.M. and G.A.M., Children

         From the 225th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2015PA00997 Honorable Charles E. Montemayor, Judge Presiding

          Sitting: Sandee Bryan Marion, Chief Justice Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice Luz Elena D. Chapa, Justice


          Sandee Bryan Marion, Chief Justice

         M.A.J.M. appeals the trial court's order terminating his parental rights to his children "John" and "Jacob."[1] The sole issue presented on appeal is whether the evidence is legally and factually sufficient to support the trial court's finding that termination was in the children's best interest. We affirm the trial court's order.


         On May 13, 2015, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services filed a petition to terminate M.A.J.M. and L.T.'s parental rights to John and Jacob. On November 3-4, 2016, the trial court held a two-day bench trial on the merits of the case.

         The children were removed from their parents' care in May of 2015 because the parents were unable to provide a safe, drug-free home. Jordan Price, the Department's legal case worker, was assigned to the case on August 22, 2016. Price stated she had access to the prior case workers' notes and was able to speak with the prior case workers about the case. Price testified she had attempted to meet with M.A.J.M. multiple times during the pendency of the case but had only met with him once at a house he leased. Price testified M.A.J.M.'s leased house had a staircase too steep for the children, but it did have appropriate places for the children to sleep. Price was notified, however, that M.A.J.M. was given a thirty-day notice to vacate on October 10, 2016.

         At the time of trial, John was four-years-old, and Jacob was two-years-old. Both children were placed with their maternal grandmother, A.L. Price testified the children were thriving in their grandmother's care with all of their needs being met in a loving home. On cross-examination, Price testified both L.T. and one of A.L.'s sons were incarcerated for drug offenses. Price was not aware if A.L.'s son had been released from prison and was living with A.L. The Department's plan is for A.L. to adopt the children.

         Shortly after the children were removed, a family service plan was developed for M.A.J.M., and Price testified some of the services had been completed. M.A.J.M. completed a parenting class, a domestic violence class, and an intense outpatient program for alcohol abuse. M.A.J.M. was referred to Lifetime Recovery for drug treatment, but he was unsuccessfully discharged after "[h]e just stopped going" with only ten days left to complete the program. On cross-examination, Price stated she did not recall M.A.J.M. sending her a text on September 14, 2016, asking her to again refer him to Lifetime Recovery. After M.A.J.M. was discharged by one therapist because he had two "no shows, " he was also unsuccessfully discharged by a second therapist. Price testified she had scheduled M.A.J.M. for counseling three times since she was assigned to the case.

          Price testified he did not know if M.A.J.M. was drug free. The court-ordered family service plan required M.A.J.M. to undergo random drug testing. M.A.J.M. was sent for drug tests on September 13, 2016, September 19, 2016, and October 26, 2016; however, he did not appear for any of the tests. In response to one of Price's messages or phone calls about a scheduled drug test, Price testified M.A.J.M. stated, "no thanks. That he's complied with all of CPS's rules and he'll see me in court." During Price's visit to M.A.J.M.'s house, an empty baggy was found outside the house on M.A.J.M.'s patio table, which was described as questionable.

         At the time of the children's removal, M.A.J.M. was on probation for evading arrest in a vehicle. Although Price attempted to contact M.A.J.M.'s probation officer, she had not spoken with the officer. Price was not aware if the probation department required regular drug testing or the results of any such tests.

         Price testified M.A.J.M. had not provided any support for the children or paid any of the court-ordered child support. Price stated M.A.J.M. is employed, but M.A.J.M. had not provided Price with pay stubs which Price testified he had requested. M.A.J.M. had provided Price with a handwritten letter from his employer on a piece of notebook paper. Price attempted to contact the employer; however, no one answered.

         Price testified M.A.J.M. attended his weekly visits with his children, and the visits were appropriate. The children were excited to see M.A.J.M. Price testified the Department denied M.A.J.M.'s request to increase his visits.

         Price was requesting the trial court to terminate M.A.J.M.'s parental rights because of his lack of commitment or motivation to complete services and his inability to financially support the children. Price ...

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