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In re M.J.M.G.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

December 20, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF M.J.M.G., Child

         From the 288th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2016PA02386 Honorable Charles E. Montemayor, Judge Presiding[1]

          Sandee Bryan Marion, Chief Justice Karen Angelini, Justice Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice

          OPINION

          Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice

         This is an accelerated appeal of the trial court's order terminating Appellant V.M.'s parental rights to his child, M.J.M.G. V.M. 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 M.J.M.G.'s best interest. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(b)(2). Because we conclude V.M. failed to challenge an independent ground in support of the trial court's ruling, we affirm the trial court's order terminating V.M.'s parental rights.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         M.J.M.G. was born on October 14, 2016. Both M.J.M.G. and his mother tested positive for amphetamines and marijuana at the time of his birth. M.J.M.G. was placed in the neonatal intensive care unit due to respiratory problems and withdrawal symptoms.

         On October 24, 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 May 18, 2017, the matter was called for trial. Following a hearing, the trial court terminated V.M.'s parental rights to M.J.M.G. based on the following grounds:

(1) after being served with citation, V.M. failed to file an admission of paternity or counterclaim for paternity under Chapter 160 of the Texas Family Code, see Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.002(b)(1); and
(2) V.M. constructively abandoned M.J.M.G. and used controlled substances supporting termination under Texas Family Code Sections 161.001(b)(1) (N), and (P), see Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(b)(1) (N), (P), and termination of V.M.'s parental rights was in M.J.M.G.'s best interest, see id. § 161.001(b)(2).

         This appeal ensued.

         Failure to Legitimate Paternity

         In its brief, the State argues V.M. failed to challenge the trial court's finding under Texas Family Code section 161.002(b)(1) that V.M. failed to timely file an admission of paternity or a counterclaim for paternity under Chapter 160 of the Texas Family Code. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.002(b)(1).

         This court previously held, "[t]here are no formalities that must be observed when filing an admission of paternity or for such an admission to be effective." In re J.L.A., No. 04-13- 00857-CV, 2014 WL 1831097, at *2 (Tex. App.-San Antonio May 7, 2014, no pet.) (mem. op.); accord In re K.W., No. 02-09-00041-CV, 2010 WL 144394, at *3 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth Jan. 14, 2010, no pet.) (mem. op.). "In fact, by appearing at trial and admitting that he is the child's father, an alleged father triggers his right to require the Department to prove one of the ...


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