Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
IN THE INTEREST OF N.E.B., A.T.G., and N.V. G., Children
the 166th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial
Court No. 2017-PA-00200 Honorable Charles E. Montemayor,
Sitting: Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice, Luz Elena D. Chapa,
Justice, Irene Rios, Justice
Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice
J.B. (Mom) and J.G. (Dad) appeal the trial court's order
terminating their parental rights to the children N.E.B.,
A.T.G., and N.V.G.[*] Each parent asserts the trial court could
not have found by clear and convincing evidence that
terminating their respective parental rights is in the
children's best interests. Having reviewed the evidence,
we conclude it is legally and factually sufficient to support
the trial court's findings. We affirm the trial
the mother of N.E.B., A.T.G., and N.V.G. Dad is the father of
A.T.G. and N.V.G. In December 2016, the Department received a
referral based on Mom and N.V.G. testing positive for
marijuana at N.V.G.'s birth. The Department initiated a
safety plan. In January 2017, the Department found Mom and
Dad alone with the children, which violated the plan, Dad had
physically assaulted Mom, and there was no electricity in the
home. The Department removed the children from the home.
After several status hearings, the Department moved to
terminate the parents' rights. The case was tried, and
the parents' rights to their children were terminated.
Required, Standards of Review
evidentiary standards the Department must meet and the statutory
grounds the trial court must find to terminate a
parent's rights to a child are well known, as are the
legal and factualsufficiency standards of review.
We apply them here.
Courses of Parental Conduct
trial court found by clear and convincing evidence that (1)
Mom's conduct met the grounds stated in paragraphs (D),
(E), (N), (O), (P), and (R), and (2) Dad's conduct met
the grounds in paragraphs (D), (E), (N), and (O).
See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(b)(1) (West
Supp. 2017). On appeal, neither Mom nor Dad challenges the
trial court's statutory grounds findings.
Best Interests of the Children
Mom and Dad challenge the sufficiency of the evidence
supporting the trial court's findings that terminating
their respective parental rights is in the children's
best interests. See id. § 161.001(b)(2). The
Family Code and Holley factors for best
interests of the children are also well known. With the
statutory and common law factors in mind, we examine the
Evidence of Best Interests of the Children
two-day bench trial on November 9 and 29, 2017, concerned
Mom's and Dad's conduct and their rights to their
respective children. The trial court heard testimony from
three Department workers and Mom, and it received
recommendations from the children's attorney ad litem.
The trial court was the "sole judge of the credibility
of the witnesses and the weight to give their
testimony." See City of Keller v. Wilson, 168
S.W.3d 802, 819 (Tex. 2005); In re H.R.M., 209
S.W.3d 105, 108 (Tex. 2006).
Domestic Violence in the Home
reason for the children's removal was domestic violence
in the home. In one incident, Dad tried to hit Mom in the
head with a hammer. The children were present in the home at
the time of the incident, but there was conflicting testimony
on whether the children saw it happen. Dad admitted that he
and Mom hit each other, but he blamed Mom for causing the
domestic violence. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §
263.307(b)(1), (3), (4), (7) (West Supp. 2017); Holley v.
Adams, 544 S.W.2d 367, 371-72 (Tex. 1976) (factors (C),
Mom's Plan Services
bipolar disorder. After the children were removed in January
2017, she did not start taking medication to treat her
bipolar disorder until June 2017, but she is taking it now.
Under her plan, Mom's services included psychological
evaluation, individual counseling, parenting, and domestic
violence classes. Mom started the domestic violence class two
months before trial and the parenting class a few weeks
before trial. At the time of trial, she had not completed
either course. She just started seeing a counselor once a
week, but she acknowledged she did not complete the
psychological examination, individual counseling, or
parenting classes. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §
263.307(b)(1), (10), (11); Holley, 544 S.W.2d at
371-72 (factors (C), (D), (H)).
Mom's Visit to the Children
nine months from the time the children were removed, Mom saw
her children only once-a few days before trial. She did not
see her children because "she was lost. She was trying
to get her life together. And having visits with [the
children] was overwhelming." See Tex. Fam. Code
Ann. § 263.307(b)(1), (6), (11), (12); Holley,
544 S.W.2d at 371-72 (factors (C), (D), (H)).
Mom's Drug Use, Testing, Treatment
admitted using marijuana while she was pregnant with N.V.G.
She knew N.V.G.'s meconium tested positive for marijuana;
she denied knowing it tested positive for amphetamines. Mom
repeatedly missed drug tests, including urinalyses and hair
follicle tests. By skipping the drug tests and refusing to
admit she was using drugs, Mom prevented the Department from
getting her into a substance abuse treatment program.
See Tex. ...