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In re W.C.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Eleventh District

May 25, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF W.C., A CHILD

          On Appeal from the 1st Multicounty Court at Law Nolan County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. CC-7389

          Panel consists of: Willson, J., Bailey, J., and Wright, S.C.J. [1]

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          MIKE WILLSON JUSTICE

         The trial court entered an order in which it terminated the parental rights of W.C.'s mother. The mother filed an appeal. On appeal, she challenges the factual sufficiency of the evidence to support the trial court's best interest finding. We affirm.

         I. Termination Standards and Findings

         In a single issue on appeal, Appellant asserts that the evidence is factually insufficient to support the trial court's finding that termination of her parental rights was in the best interest of her child. Appellant specifically argues that the trial court should have considered her past parenting, the lack of physical abuse, the lack of permanency, and the importance of the parent-child bond. Appellant asserts that such factors weigh in favor of a less severe alternative to termination.

         Termination of parental rights must be supported by clear and convincing evidence. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(b) (West Supp. 2017). To determine if the evidence is factually sufficient, we give due deference to the finding and determine whether, on the entire record, a factfinder could reasonably form a firm belief or conviction about the truth of the allegations against the parent. In re C.H., 89 S.W.3d 17, 25-26 (Tex. 2002).

         To terminate parental rights, it must be shown by clear and convincing evidence that the parent has committed one of the acts listed in Section 161.001(b)(1)(A)-(U) and that termination is in the best interest of the child. Fam. § 161.001(b). In this case, the trial court found that Appellant had knowingly placed or knowingly allowed the child to remain in conditions or surroundings that endangered the child's physical or emotional well-being, had engaged in conduct or knowingly placed the child with persons who engaged in conduct that endangered the child's physical or emotional well-being, had failed to comply with provisions of a court order that specifically established the actions necessary for her to obtain the return of the child, and had used a controlled substance in a manner that endangered the health or safety of the child and failed to complete a court-ordered substance abuse treatment program. See id. § 161.001(b)(1)(D), (E), (O), (P). Appellant does not challenge these findings, but she does challenge the trial court's finding that termination is in the child's best interest. See id. § 161.001(b)(2). Accordingly, we will uphold the order of termination if the evidence is sufficient to support the best interest finding.

         With respect to the best interest of a child, no unique set of factors need be proved. In re C.J.O., 325 S.W.3d 261, 266 (Tex. App.-Eastland 2010, pet. denied). But courts may use the non-exhaustive Holley factors to shape their analysis.

         Holley v. Adams, 544 S.W.2d 367, 371-72 (Tex. 1976). These include, but are not limited to, (1) the desires of the child, (2) the emotional and physical needs of the child now and in the future, (3) the emotional and physical danger to the child now and in the future, (4) the parental abilities of the individuals seeking custody, (5) the programs available to assist these individuals to promote the best interest of the child, (6) the plans for the child by these individuals or by the agency seeking custody, (7) the stability of the home or proposed placement, (8) the acts or omissions of the parent that may indicate that the existing parent-child relationship is not a proper one, and (9) any excuse for the acts or omissions of the parent. Id. Additionally, evidence that proves one or more statutory grounds for termination may also constitute evidence illustrating that termination is in the child's best interest. C.J.O., 325 S.W.3d at 266.

         II. Evidence at Trial

         The Department of Family and Protective Services originally became involved with W.C., the child in this case, based upon allegations of neglectful supervision and physical abuse of W.C. by Appellant, allegations that stemmed from Appellant's use of methamphetamine. At that time, Appellant tested positive for methamphetamine and amphetamine. W.C. was eventually removed due to the risk to him from Appellant's "[h]igh levels" of drug use and also due to Appellant's arrest for disorderly conduct.

         Before being removed from Appellant and also on the days surrounding visitation with Appellant, W.C. would have outbursts at school-behavior that mirrored Appellant's. W.C., who was five years old at the time, would "cuss" and scream at his teachers. He had hit his teachers, thrown chairs, turned desks over, and stabbed other children with scissors. The principal of the school testified that W.C. had significant behavioral and emotional issues. Two days prior to the removal, MHMR received a "crisis call" from the school due to W.C.'s violent behavior. The MHMR assessment revealed that he had mental health issues. Additionally, while in the care of Appellant, W.C. had several unexcused absences from school.

         While this case was pending, Appellant continued to use methamphetamine. For this reason, the trial court ordered Appellant to complete inpatient drug treatment; however, Appellant failed to seek such treatment even after the Department referred her to Serenity House. The trial court suspended Appellant's visitation with W.C. until she completed inpatient drug treatment. Thereafter, Appellant went to the home of the placement, the child's paternal aunt, ...


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