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In re E.A.Z.P.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

May 2, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF E.A.Z.P., a Child

          From the 438th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2016PA02449 Honorable Richard Garcia, Judge Presiding

          Sandee Bryan Marion, Chief Justice, Marialyn Barnard Justice, Luz Elena D. Chapa Justice

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Sandee Bryan Marion, Chief Justice

         C.P. and J.V. appeal the trial court's order terminating their parental rights to their son, E.A.Z.P. The only issue presented on appeal is whether the evidence is legally and factually sufficient to support the trial court's finding that termination was in E.A.Z.P.'s best interest. We affirm the trial court's order.

         Background

         On October 31, 2016, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services filed a petition to terminate C.P.'s and J.V.'s parental rights to E.A.Z.P. On the date the petition was filed, E.A.Z.P. was six months old. A bench trial was held on November 17, 2017.

         The Department's caseworker testified the Department received a referral on April 15, 2016, alleging C.P. was using methamphetamines, and E.A.Z.P. tested positive for methamphetamines at his birth. As a result, E.A.Z.P. suffered withdrawals, including tremors and muscle spasms. The caseworker testified E.A.Z.P. was initially placed with his maternal great-grandmother but was subsequently placed with a fictive kin family on February 1, 2017. E.A.Z.P. is very well cared for by the family and calls his fictive kin parents "mama" and "dada." As a result of being exposed to drugs at birth, E.A.Z.P. is speech-delayed, and the Department plans to provide E.A.Z.P. with speech therapy when appropriate. The caseworker testified E.A.Z.P. "has quite a language deficit, and he really doesn't verbalize as much as he should for his age."

         The caseworker testified a family service plan was reviewed with C.P. The plan required C.P. to complete a drug assessment and psychological evaluation and follow the recommendations, complete individual counseling and a parenting class, adhere to random drug testing, obtain stable housing and employment, and refrain from criminal activity. On February 27, 2017, C.P. completed a substance abuse assessment on her fourth attempt. C.P. did not follow the assessment recommendations and was discharged from individual counseling and a parenting class due to nonattendance. In August of 2017, C.P. tested positive for methamphetamines; however, subsequent test results have been negative. C.P. told the caseworker she has not maintained stable housing but "kind of go[es] from place to place." She also was never employed while the case was pending. The caseworker testified C.P.'s pattern of instability, inconsistency, and lack of sobriety pose a threat to E.A.Z.P.'s well-being. C.P. missed only three or four of her visits with E.A.Z.P.; however she was usually twenty to thirty minutes late to the visits. Finally, C.P. was arrested in December of 2016 for robbery and in May of 2017 for theft of property, and the charges are still pending.

         The caseworker testified J.V. has been incarcerated the entire time the case has been pending and is not due to be released until 2020. As a result, J.V. has never visited with E.A.Z.P.

         J.V. never contacted the caseworker to inquire about E.A.Z.P.'s welfare, and E.A.Z.P. does not have any bond with J.V.

         J.V. testified via telephone that he was serving time in prison for a conviction of felon in possession of a firearm. J.V. stated his scheduled release date is November 18, 2020, but he is eligible for parole before that date.

         C.P. testified she was discharged from services because she does not own a vehicle and has transportation issues. C.P. further testified she is currently living with her grandmother, and her mother and brother financially support her. C.P. stated she attended AA/NA meetings twice a week from February of 2017 through September of 2017 but stopped because she was arrested. C.P. also testified she recently started a drug recovery program. C.P. did not believe E.A.Z.P. was speech-delayed.

         After hearing the testimony, the trial court terminated C.P.'s and J.V.'s parental rights, and they both appeal.

         Standard of Review and ...


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