Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo
Appeal from the 316th District Court Hutchinson County, Texas
Trial Court No. 42, 530, Honorable James M. Mosley, Presiding
CAMPBELL and PIRTLE and PARKER, JJ.
C. Parker Justice
a bench trial, the trial court signed a judgment terminating
the parent-child relationship between J.I. and his daughter,
C.F.M. J.I. challenges the legal and factual sufficiency of
the evidence supporting the grounds for termination of his
parental rights. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
August 29, 2016, the Department of Family and Protective
Services received a report citing concerns for the safety of
C.F.M., a newborn, because of her mother'shistory of drug
use and prior involvement with the Department. C.F.M. tested
positive for marijuana approximately one week after her
birth. The Department was granted an emergency protection
order for C.F.M., and filed a petition seeking
conservatorship and termination of parental rights. Following
an adversary hearing, the Department was appointed temporary
managing conservator and C.F.M. was placed in a foster home.
T.M. was named possessory conservator and ordered to work
specific services. The court granted J.I.'s request for
genetic testing,  but he was not ordered to complete any
services at that time.
of service was eventually developed for J.I. According to the
plan, J.I. was required to complete a substance abuse
assessment with Outreach, Screening, Assessment, and
Referral; submit to drug testing; participate in parenting
classes; undergo a psychological evaluation; complete
rational behavior therapy; attend individual counseling; and
maintain contact with the Department. The trial court's
November 2016 status hearing order approved J.I.'s filed
service plan and made it an order of the court.
permanency hearing on January 17, 2017, the court ordered the
Department to place C.F.M. in J.I.'s home by February 1
in a monitored return. After the hearing, J.I. refused to
submit to a required hair follicle drug test explaining to
the Department that he could not take care of the child, did
not want the child, and wanted to relinquish his parental
rights. J.I. reiterated his desire to relinquish his parental
rights when he appeared at the permanency hearing in April
2017. The caseworker was unable to contact J.I. after that
hearing. J.I. did not complete any of his court-ordered
services and he did not attend the termination trial on
October 5, 2017.
trial court terminated J.I.'s parental rights on the
grounds set forth in Texas Family Code section
161.001(b)(1)(B), (C), (N), (O), and (P), and found that
termination would be in the child's best interest.
See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(b) (West
reviewing the legal sufficiency of the evidence in a
termination case, the appellate court should look at all the
evidence in the light most favorable to the trial court's
finding "to determine whether a reasonable trier of fact
could have formed a firm belief or conviction that its
finding was true." In re J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d 256,
266 (Tex. 2002). To give appropriate deference to the
factfinder's conclusions, we must assume that the
factfinder resolved disputed facts in favor of its finding if
a reasonable factfinder could do so. Id. We
disregard all evidence that a reasonable factfinder could
have disbelieved or found to have been not credible, but we
do not disregard undisputed facts. Id. Even evidence
that does more than raise surmise or suspicion is not
sufficient unless that evidence is capable of producing a
firm belief or conviction that the allegation is true. In
re K.M.L., 443 S.W.3d 101, 113 (Tex. 2014). If, after
conducting a legal sufficiency review, we determine that no
reasonable factfinder could have formed a firm belief or
conviction that the matter that must be proven was true, then
the evidence is legally insufficient and we must reverse.
Id. (citing In re J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d at
factual sufficiency review, we must give due consideration to
evidence that the factfinder could reasonably have found to
be clear and convincing. In re J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d at
266. We must determine whether the evidence is such that a
factfinder could reasonably form a firm belief or conviction
about the truth of the Department's allegations.
Id. We must also consider whether disputed evidence
is such that a reasonable factfinder could not have resolved
the disputed evidence in favor of its finding. Id.
If, in light of the entire record, the disputed evidence that
a reasonable factfinder could not have credited in favor of
the finding is so significant that a factfinder could not
reasonably have formed a firm belief or conviction, then the
evidence is factually insufficient. Id.
termination of parental rights is a serious proceeding
implicating fundamental constitutional rights. Holick v.
Smith, 685 S.W.2d 18, 20 (Tex. 1985). A parent's
right to the "companionship, care, custody, and
management" of his or her child is a constitutional
interest "far more precious than any property
right." Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745,
758-59, 102 S.Ct. 1388, 71 L.Ed.2d 599 (1982); see In re
M.S.,115 S.W.3d 534, 547 (Tex. 2003). Consequently, we
strictly scrutinize termination proceedings and strictly
construe the involuntary termination statutes in favor of the
parent. Holick, 685 S.W.2d at 20. However, "the
rights of natural parents are not absolute" and
"[t]he rights of parenthood are accorded only to those
fit to accept the accompanying responsibilities." In
re A.V.,113 S.W.3d 355, 361 (Tex. 2003) (citing In
re J.W.T., 872 S.W.2d 189, 195 (Tex. 1993)). Recognizing
that a parent may forfeit his or her parental ...