Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
IN THE INTEREST OF J.J.S., E.F.S., and X.C.M.S., Children
the 288th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial
Court No. 2016-PA-02857 Honorable John D. Gabriel, Jr., Judge
Sitting: Sandee Bryan Marion, Chief Justice, Marialyn
Barnard, Justice, Luz Elena D. Chapa, Justice
Bryan Marion, Chief Justice
A.M. (mother) and appellant J.S. (father) appeal the trial
court's order terminating their parental rights to their
children J.J.S., E.F.S., and X.C.M.S. A.M. challenges the
sufficiency of the evidence to support the trial court's
predicate statutory findings, and both A.M. and J.S.
challenge the sufficiency of the evidence to support the
trial court's finding that termination was in the
children's best interest. We affirm the trial court's
December 22, 2016, the Texas Department of Family and
Protective Services filed a petition to terminate A.M.'s
and J.S.'s parental rights to J.J.S. and E.F.S. On the
date the petition was filed, J.J.S. was almost two, and
E.F.S. was almost one. On March 16, 2017, the Department
filed an amended petition also seeking to terminate
A.M.'s and J.S.'s parental rights to X.C.M.S., who
was born on March 1, 2017. A bench trial was held on October
Department's caseworker, who had been assigned the case
since its inception, testified the children were placed in a
kinship home with maternal cousins and were doing very well.
The caseworker stated A.M. did not receive any prenatal care
while pregnant with X.C.M.S., and X.C.M.S. was born
prematurely. X.C.M.S.'s medical issues arising from his
premature birth, however, were being addressed. The children
were removed from their parents' care based on
allegations that the parents were dealing drugs out of the
home with the children present, the children were being left
unattended, and the parents were constantly under the
influence of drugs while the children were in the
parents' care. When the Department contacted the parents,
J.S. admitted using synthetic marijuana, and A.M. admitting
caseworker also testified she could only obtain drug tests
when the parents appeared in court because they did not
otherwise appear for scheduled drug tests. A.M.'s test
results were positive. The only service plan requirement A.M.
completed was the psychological evaluation. She did not
complete the drug and alcohol assessment, parenting classes,
or individual therapy. She also did not have stable
employment or housing. J.S. completed a parenting class and
the psychological evaluation; however, he did not complete
the drug and alcohol assessment or individual therapy. He
also failed to provide proof of employment or stable housing.
Neither parent paid any of their court-ordered child support
or otherwise provided tangible support for the children.
caseworker further testified J.S. was scheduled to have a
one-hour visit with the children each week, and J.S. attended
maybe twenty-five percent of the scheduled visits. The
parents only had four visits with the children in the four
months preceding trial, and A.M. was present for only
portions of those visits. Since June of 2017, the caseworker
estimated A.M. and J.S. had visited with the children for two
hours and five hours, respectively. The caseworker testified
the parents' visits with the children were inappropriate
because A.M. and J.S. would cuss at each other in front of
the children. The children did not ask about their parents
and are bonded with their caregivers. The Department's
long-term plan is for the children to be adopted by their
current caregivers. The caseworker stated termination of the
parents' rights was in the children's best interest.
testified she was living with her sister but admitted the
house was not appropriate for the children because it only
had one bedroom. A.M. planned to support the children by
working but admitted her current employment was "on and
off right now."
testified he had been working for a tree service "[o]ff
and on for about a month" and worked about eighteen to
nineteen hours a week. He did not complete the drug and
alcohol assessment due to scheduling difficulties but stated
he completed some of the classes required by his service plan
while he was incarcerated. J.S. had been living with his
mother in her one-bedroom apartment for about two weeks.
Before that, he was homeless. J.S. testified he could not
attend all of the visits with the children due to
transportation issues. On cross-examination, J.S. testified
he would not be surprised if his mother said he did not live
with her. Although the tree service company also reported
J.S. was not working there, J.S. explained the person at the
company knows him by a different name.
children's ad litem testified the children are doing
great with their placement and are very bonded with the
family. The children believe the placement is their forever
hearing the evidence, the trial court terminated A.M.'s
and J.S.'s parental rights. A.M. and J.S. appeal.
of Review and ...