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In re Z. L. R.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg

November 16, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF Z. L. R., Z. L. R., AND Z. R., CHILDREN IN THE INTEREST OF Z. J. R., A CHILD

         On appeal from the 377th District Court of Victoria County, Texas.

         On appeal from the 267th District Court of Victoria County, Texas.

          Before Chief Justice Valdez and Justices Contreras and Hinojosa

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ROGELIO VALDEZ Chief Justice.

         C.R., the mother, and A.L.R., the father, appeal the termination of their parental rights to their children, Z.L.R. ("Z.L.R.1"), Z.L.R. ("Z.L.R.2"), and Z.R. in appellate cause number 13-17-00272-CV.[1] In appellate cause number 13-17-273-CV, C.R. appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child, Z.J.R.[2] By two issues, C.R. contends that the evidence is legally insufficient to support a finding that she violated sections 161.001(b)(1)(D) and (O) of the Texas Family Code. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §§ 161.001(b)(1)(D), (O) (West, Westlaw through 2017 1st C.S.). By two issues, A.L.R. contends the evidence is legally insufficient to support a finding that he violated sections 161.001(b)(1)(D) and (O) of the Texas Family Code. See id. §§ 161.001(b)(1)(D), (O).

         We affirm.[3]

         I. Standard of Review and Applicable Law

         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. Holick v. Smith, 685 S.W.2d 18, 20 (Tex. 1985); see In re D.S.P., 210 S.W.3d 776, 778 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 2006, no pet.). Therefore, termination of the parent-child relationship must be supported by clear and convincing evidence. In re J.L., 163 S.W.3d 79, 84 (Tex. 2005). Before terminating the parent-child relationship, the trial court must find by clear and convincing evidence that the parent committed one of the acts prohibited by section 161.001(b)(1)(A-T) of the Texas Family Code and that termination is in the child's best interest. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(b)(1)(A-T); In re J.L., 163 S.W.3d at 84; see also Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 153.002 (West, Westlaw through 2017 1st C.S.).

         The "clear and convincing" intermediate standard falls between the preponderance of the evidence standard of civil proceedings and the reasonable doubt standard of criminal proceedings. Porter v. Tex. Dep't of Protective & Regulatory Servs., 105 S.W.3d 52, 57 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 2003, no pet.). It is "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, Westlaw through 2017 1st C.S.); In re J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d 256, 264 (Tex. 2002). In reviewing the legal sufficiency of the evidence supporting parental termination, we must assume that the trier of fact resolved disputed facts in favor of its finding if it was reasonable to do so. In re J.L., 163 S.W.3d at 85 (citing In re J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d at 266). We must also disregard all evidence that a reasonable fact-finder could have disbelieved or found to be incredible. City of Keller v. Wilson, 168 S.W.3d 802, 827 (Tex. 2005).

         Here, the trial court after a bench trial, found by clear and convincing evidence that C.R. and A.L.R., violated section 161.001 by (1) "knowingly plac[ing] or knowingly allow[ing] the children to remain in conditions or surroundings which endanger the physical or emotional well-being of the children, " see Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(1)(D), and (2) failing to

comply with the provisions of a court order that specifically established the actions necessary for the mother to obtain the return of the children who have been in the permanent or temporary managing conservatorship of the [Department] for not less than nine months as a result of the children's removal from the parent[s] under Chapter 262 for the abuse or neglect of the child[ren].

See id. § 161.001(b)(1)(O).[4]

         A parental-rights termination decree must be based on at least one predicate ground. See In re A.V., 113 S.W.3d 355, 362 (Tex. 2003) (affirming parental termination based on one predicate without reaching second predicate found by fact-finder and challenged by parent). If multiple predicate grounds are found by the trial court, we affirm based on any one ground because only one is necessary for termination of parental rights. In re T.N.F., 205 S.W.3d 625, 629 (Tex. App.-Waco 2006, pet. denied). Therefore, to prevail on appeal, a party must challenge the sufficiency of each affirmative finding of a predicate ground for termination or at minimum challenge the best interest finding. In re S.N., 272 S.W.3d 45, 49 (Tex. App.-Waco 2008, no pet.).

         II. ...


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