Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
IN THE INTEREST OF G.S.M., E.M., R.M., and G.M.M., Children
the 166th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial
Court No. 2016-PA-00712 Honorable Martha Tanner, Judge
Bryan Marion, Chief Justice, Rebeca C. Martinez, Justice,
Irene Rios, Justice.
C. MARTINEZ, JUSTICE .
appeals the trial court's order terminating her parental
rights to her four children, G.S.M., E.M., R.M., and G.M.M.
In a single issue on appeal, M.-M. asserts the evidence is
insufficient to support the trial court's finding that
termination of her parental rights was in the children's
best interest. We affirm the trial court's order.
April 6, 2016, the Texas Department of Family and Protective
Services ("the Department") filed its petition to
terminate M.-M.'s parental rights. A bench trial was held
on August 8, 2017. On the date of the trial, G.S.M. was
approximately eleven years old, E.M. was approximately ten
years old, R.M. was approximately eight years old, and G.M.M.
was approximately six years old.
start of the termination trial, M.-M.'s attorney asked
for a continuance because M.-M. was not present and,
according to her attorney, had allegedly suffered a mental
breakdown. The State opposed the continuance, contending
M.-M. had actually relapsed on methamphetamine. When the
trial court asked M.-M.'s attorney if a guardian should
be appointed for her, counsel replied that M.-M. had not gone
to a hospital or been admitted to a psychiatric facility; she
was at home with her husband and her mother; and she suffered
from panic attacks, Stage 3 kidney cancer, and "some
other ailments." The trial court denied the continuance,
and trial commenced.
State first called Dietra Marquez, the current caseworker,
who had only been on the case for two months. Marquez
recommended M.-M.'s parental rights be terminated and the
children's father and paternal grandmother be appointed
joint managing conservators.
to Marquez, the children's father had done everything
asked of him under his family service plan: he completed
domestic violence, parenting, and anger management classes;
and he completed his individual counseling. The children were
currently living with their paternal grandmother, Elizabeth,
who has been the children's primary caregiver for the
entirety of the case. The children are bonded to their
grandmother. Marquez said ten-year-old E.M. is autistic, and
Elizabeth meets his special needs. The children's father
recently moved into his mother's home because he was
compliant with his service plan.
testified M.-M. admitted having a methamphetamine drug
problem, and she tested positive for that drug in May 2017.
After the May 2017 drug relapse, Marquez referred M.-M. to
out-patient drug treatment, which she did not successfully
complete. After M.-M. discontinued her out-patient drug
treatment, she did not return Marquez's phone calls.
M.-M. attended only one individual counseling session.
However, M.-M. completed a domestic violence class, a
November 2016 out-patient drug treatment program, and a
parenting class. Before M.-M.'s May 2017 drug relapse,
she had engaged in counseling. M.-M. is currently married to
Gabriel F. Gabriel F. had agreed to take a drug test, but
never did. Marquez was also concerned about domestic violence
allegations involving M.-M. and Gabriel F. M.-M. has stable
housing with Gabriel F., but not stable employment.
addition to the domestic violence allegations against her
current husband, Marquez said there was domestic violence
between M.-M. and the children's father, and a separate
incident of domestic violence with another man. Marquez said
M.-M. addressed her drug issues, but then she relapsed; she
addressed domestic violence issues, but she married the
alleged perpetrator of the violence. Therefore, Marquez's
concerns about drug use and domestic violence in the home
asked why she recommended termination of M.-M.'s parental
rights, Marquez said M.-M. had not satisfied all her family
service plan requirements, the children no longer want to
visit their mother due to her marrying Gabriel F., and they
"are very upset." Marquez said the children told
their mother they did not want her to marry Gabriel F.
According to Marquez, G.S.M. wanted her mother's parental
rights terminated and she wanted to remain with her father
and paternal grandmother. G.S.M. was "very tearful"
and believed things would go back to the way they were if her
mother's rights were not terminated. Marquez said R.C.M.
also expressed a desire to have his mother's parental
stated M.-M.'s parental rights should be terminated
because M.-M. was unwilling to place her children's needs
above her own, and she married a man against whom the
domestic violence allegations were made. Marquez said
M.-M.'s visits with her children over the past month had
become sporadic. M.-M. would tell Marquez she intended to
visit, but then either not come or come and leave early. For
the entirety of the case, the children repeatedly asked their
mother to bring toys from her house that were special to
them. M.-M. promised to bring the toys, but never did so.
Marquez believed the inability to rely on their mother harmed
the children's paternal grandmother, testified G.S.M.
told her that G.S.M.'s role in the family was to take
care of her three younger brothers, which included bathing
and feeding them, putting them to bed, and making sure they
did not fight. When the children were placed with Elizabeth,
Elizabeth told G.S.M. she could be the "big sister"
and that she [Elizabeth] would be the "mother" and
take care of them. Elizabeth said that during a May visit in
her home with the children, M.-M. denied being "high,
" but admitted "she was coming down from it."
Elizabeth stated that since her son, the children's