Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
the 73rd Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial
Court No. 2016PA00174 Honorable Richard Garcia, Judge
Sitting: Karen Angelini, Justice, Rebeca C. Martinez, Justice
Irene Rios, Justice.
an accelerated appeal from an order terminating
appellant-Mother's and appellant-Father's parental
rights to their two children, J.L.B. and K.R.B. Mother
presents two issues, and Father presents one issue,
challenging the legal and factual sufficiency of the evidence
to support the trial court's termination findings under
Chapter 161 of the Texas Family Code. We affirm the trial
court's termination order.
January 15, 2016, the Texas Department of Family and
Protective Services ("the Department") received a
referral alleging neglectful supervision against Mother
because Mother tested positive for cocaine and marijuana at
the time of J.L.B.'s birth. The referral indicated J.L.B
is the youngest of Mother's four children and noted
Mother did not have custody of the other three children. Upon
validating the referral and based upon the parents'
history with the Department, the Department filed its
original petition on January 26, 2016.
an adversary hearing held on March 1, 2016, the trial court
signed a temporary order assigning the Department as
temporary managing conservator of J.L.B. The trial court
ordered Mother to comply with the requirements of the service
plan, and Mother was allowed twice-monthly supervised
visitation with J.L.B., which was contingent upon negative
drug testing results. The trial court also ordered that
Mother and Father complete a domestic violence course. The
Department placed J.L.B. in foster care. The record indicates
the March 1, 2016 temporary order did not address K.R.B.
because she was already in the custody of her paternal
grandmother as the result of the parents' previous
10, 2016, the Department received a referral alleging
neglectful supervision of K.R.B. against Father because
Father was arrested during a traffic stop for possessing
"a pound" of heroin. The referral alleged K.R.B.
was living in the same residence as Father that was
"raided" subsequent to Father's arrest, and in
which law enforcement officers discovered evidence of drug
packaging and distribution. Upon validating the referral, the
Department filed an amended petition to terminate
Mother's and Father's parental rights to both J.L.B.
and K.R.B on June 15, 2016.
an adversary hearing held on June 28, 2016 regarding K.R.B.,
the trial court signed a temporary order assigning the
Department as temporary managing conservator of K.R.B. and
assigning Mother and Father as temporary possessory
conservators with limited access. J.L.B. remained in foster
care. The Department removed K.R.B. from the paternal
grandmother's custody and initially placed K.R.B. in
emergency care. The Department subsequently placed the
siblings in foster care together with fictive kin recommended
by Mother. The fictive kin placement was unsuccessful, and
the Department moved the children into foster care.
status and permanency hearings, the parties tried the case to
the bench on March 10, 2017, March 23, 2017, and April 12,
2017. Mother and Father were both present at trial via
teleconference. Both Mother and Father were represented by
court-appointed counsel and testified on their own behalf.
The trial court also heard testimony from Department
investigator Jacqueline Jones and Department caseworkers
Belinda Miller and Isaiah Crowe, IV.
the receipt of evidence and testimony, the trial court
rendered judgment terminating Mother's parental rights to
each child pursuant to Texas Family Code sections
161.001(b)(1)(D), (E), (N), (O), (P), and (R) and
Father's parental rights to each child pursuant to Texas
Family Code sections 161.001(b)(1)(D), (E), (N), (O), and
(Q). The trial court also found termination of Mother's
and Father's parental rights to be in the best interest
of the children, pursuant to Texas Family Code section
and Father appeal separately.
contends the evidence is legally and factually insufficient
to support the trial court's finding of statutory grounds
for termination of her parental rights to J.L.B. and K.R.B.
pursuant to Texas Family Code sections 161.001(b)(1)(D), (E),
(N), (O), (P), and (R). Mother additionally contends the
evidence is legally and factually insufficient to support the
trial court's finding that termination of her parental
rights is in the best interest of the children. See
Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §§ 161.001(b) (2) (West Supp.
2016). Father contends the evidence is legally and factually
insufficient to support the trial court's finding that
termination of his parental rights is in the best interest of
the children. See id.
terminate parental rights pursuant to section 161.001 of the
Code, the Department has the burden to prove: (1) one of the
predicate grounds in subsection 161.001(b)(1); and (2) that
termination is in the best interest of the child.
See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001 (West Supp.
2016); In re A.V., 113 S.W.3d 355, 362 (Tex. 2003).
The applicable burden of proof is the clear and convincing
standard. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.206(a) (West 2014);
In re J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d 256, 263 (Tex. 2002).
"'Clear and convincing evidence' means the
measure or degree of proof that will produce in the ...