Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re I.G.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

July 5, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF I.G., a Minor Child

         From the 45th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2016PA00172 Honorable Charles E. Montemayor, Judge Presiding[1]

          Sitting: Karen Angelini, Justice Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice Luz Elena D. Chapa, Justice

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice.

         This is an accelerated appeal of the trial court's order terminating Appellant C.S.'s parental rights to his child, I.G.[2] C.S. contends the evidence does not support the trial court's termination based on Texas Family Code subsections 161.001(1)(b)(D), (E), (N) and (P). Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(b)(1)(D), (E), (N), (P) (West Supp. 2016). C.S. also contends the evidence is neither legally nor factually sufficient for the trial court to have found, by clear and convincing evidence, that terminating his parental rights is in I.G.'s best interest. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(b)(2). Because we conclude the evidence is legally and factually sufficient to support the trial court's findings on both issues, we affirm the trial court's order terminating C.S.'s parental rights.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         I.G. was born on January 13, 2016. Based primarily on his mother's incarceration, I.G. was placed with fictive kin in Houston, Texas.

         On January 26, 2016, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services filed its Original Petition for Protection of a Child, for Conservatorship, and for Termination in Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship.

         After several status hearings, on November 3, 2016, the matter was called for trial. Following a hearing, the trial court terminated I.G.'s mother's parental rights on several grounds; she subsequently filed a voluntarily relinquishment of her parental rights. The trial court also terminated C.S.'s parental rights pursuant to Texas Family Code Sections 161.001(b)(1) (D), (E), (N), and (P). See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(b)(1)(D), (E), (N), (P).[3] The trial court further found termination of C.S.'s parental rights was in I.G.'s best interest. This appeal ensued.

         Sufficiency of the Evidence

         A. Standards of Review

         "Involuntary termination of parental rights involves fundamental constitutional rights and divests the parent and child of all legal rights, privileges, duties, and powers normally existing between them, except for the child's right to inherit from the parent." In re L.J.N., 329 S.W.3d 667, 671 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 2010, no pet.) (citing Holick v. Smith, 685 S.W.2d 18, 20 (Tex. 1985)). As a result, appellate courts must strictly scrutinize involuntary termination proceedings in favor of the parent. Id. (citing In re D.S.P., 210 S.W.3d 776, 778 (Tex. App.- Corpus Christi 2006, no pet.)).

         An order terminating parental rights must be supported by clear and convincing evidence that (1) the parent has committed one of the grounds for involuntary termination as listed in section 161.001(b)(1) of the Family Code, and (2) terminating the parent's rights is in the best interest of the child. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001; In re J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d 256, 261 (Tex. 2002). "'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; J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d at 264.

         "There is a strong presumption that the best interest of the child is served by keeping the child with its natural parent, and the burden is on [the Department] to rebut that presumption." In re D.R.A., 374 S.W.3d 528, 533 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2012, no pet.). "The same evidence of acts or omissions used to establish grounds for termination under section 161.001[(b)](1) may be probative in determining the best interest of the child." Id.

         1. Legal Sufficiency

         When a clear and convincing evidence standard applies, a legal sufficiency review requires a court to "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 finding was true." In re J.L., 163 S.W.3d 79, 85 (Tex. 2005) (quoting J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d at 266). If the court "determines that [a] reasonable factfinder could form a firm belief or conviction that the matter that must be proven is true, then that court must conclude that the evidence is legally [sufficient]." See id. (quoting J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d at 266). "[A] reviewing court must assume that the factfinder resolved disputed facts in favor of its finding if a reasonable factfinder could do so." J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d at 266. "A corollary to this requirement is that a court should disregard all evidence that a reasonable factfinder could have disbelieved or found to have been incredible." Id.

         2. Factual Sufficiency

         Under a clear and convincing standard, evidence is factually sufficient if "a factfinder could reasonably form a firm belief or conviction about the truth of the State's allegations." In re C.H., 89 S.W.3d 17, 25 (Tex. 2002); accord In re K.R.M., 147 S.W.3d 628, 630 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 2004, no pet.). We must consider "whether disputed evidence is such that a reasonable factfinder could not have resolved that disputed evidence in favor of its finding." J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d at 266; accord C.H., 89 S.W.3d at 25. "If, in light of the entire record, [unless] 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, . . . the evidence is factually [sufficient]." J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d at 266.

         B. Testimony Before the Trial Court

         1. Chabrea Taylor

         Chabrea Taylor, the Department's caseworker, testified I.G. was born on January 13, 2016. At the time of his birth, I.G.'s mother was incarcerated and admitted pre-natal drug use. The Department removed I.G. and he was placed with fictive kin in Houston, Texas. After her release, I.G.'s mother was unable to provide stable housing and failed to comply with the Department's service plan. I.G. has remained in the same placement since his release from the hospital. The Department recommended termination of the mother's parental rights, and during the hearing, the mother represented that she would voluntarily relinquish her rights.

         Although I.G.'s father was not incarcerated at the time of his birth, Taylor testified that she had a difficult time making contact with him. She attempted to work with C.S., toward completion of his service plan, for approximately four months prior to his current incarceration. During that time, C.S. was on bond for theft and possession of a firearm. Once the DNA tests confirmed that C.S. was I.G.'s father, C.S. complied with the Department's request that he complete a drug assessment. C.S.'s drug test on March 30, 2016 was positive for methamphetamines, amphetamines, and cocaine; his second test in May of 2016 was positive for methamphetamines. C.S.'s drug assessment recommended inpatient treatment. However, before C.S. could be placed for such treatment, he was arrested on June 27, 2016, and has remained incarcerated since that time.

         Taylor further testified there was a four-month timeframe in which C.S. could participate in the Department's services, but he chose not to. Although offered by the Department, C.S. failed to complete the service plan's requirements for therapy, psychological evaluation, and to provide proof of stable housing and employment. During cross-examination, Taylor acknowledged that C.S. completed his parenting class, an anger management class, and attended Narcotics Anonymous meetings while incarcerated.

         Taylor further testified that termination of C.S.'s parental rights was in I.G.'s best interest. C.S. was incarcerated and could not currently provide for I.G.'s well-being. C.S. had not provided any proof, that upon his release, he would be able to provide stable housing or financially support I.G. Finally, Taylor opined that I.G. was in a stable placement, with loving foster parents who hoped to adopt I.G.

         2. C.S.

         C.S. was incarcerated in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice State Jail Facility- Dominguez Unit at the time of the hearing and testified via telephone. C.S. testified that he was released from custody in February of 2016 and then rearrested in June of 2016. He was originally notified of I.G.'s birth at the beginning of February, prior to his release from Bexar County Jail. After DNA testing confirmed that I.G. was his child, C.S. contacted the Department and he participated in the drug assessment. C.S. explained that his attorney instructed him that he would have to finalize the pending charges before he could begin the inpatient treatment. During his incarceration, C.S. asserted that he participated in a number of classes: two parenting classes, Narcotics Anonymous, Christians Against Substance Abuse, Daily Choices, and Inter-peace.

         C.S. explained that he originally did not believe I.G. was his child. When contacted by the Department, however, he complied with the requested DNA test. He does not feel like he has been given a chance to play a part in I.G.'s life. C.S. testified that I.G. was his first child, that he had taken classes and learned that "this has had an impact on my son's life, but through these classes I've learned the tools of how to fix that." He explained that he "just want[ed] to be a part of [his] son's life." He testified he was granted an FI-2 parole and was scheduled to be released on January 3, 2017. C.S. averred he had a job waiting for him at Toyota and was willing to pay child support upon his release.

         On cross-examination, the Department inquired further about the drug tests. C.S. acknowledged that when he tested positive for methamphetamines, amphetamines, and cocaine, he was using drugs while on bond for his current criminal case. C.S. also acknowledged ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.