Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re L.A.D.-L.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

May 30, 2018


          From the 37th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2016PA00824 Honorable Martha B. Tanner, Judge Presiding

          Sitting: Rebeca C. Martinez, Justice Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice Irene Rios, Justice


          Irene Rios, Justice


         Appellant Mother appeals the trial court's order terminating her parental rights to her children, L.A.D.-L., M.R.D.-L, U.A.D.-T., and D.R.D.-T.[1] On appeal, Mother argues the trial court abused its discretion by denying her motion for continuance and challenges the legal and factual sufficiency of the evidence supporting the trial court's finding that termination was in the children's best interest. We affirm the trial court's order.


         Following a significant history of referrals beginning in June 2008, alleging neglectful supervision, physical and sexual abuse, and medical and physical neglect, on April 20, 2016, the

          Texas Department of Family and Protective Services ("Department") filed its original petition to terminate parental rights, alleging danger to the physical health or safety of the children. The Department filed an amended petition on February 14, 2017. The Department developed a service plan. However, the permanency hearing orders signed by the trial court on March 8, 2017 and June 9, 2017 indicate Mother failed to "demonstrate[] adequate and appropriate compliance with the service plan." Thereafter, the Department moved to terminate Mother's rights. The case was tried to the bench, and Mother's rights to her children L.A.D.-L., M.R.D.-L, U.A.D.-T., and D.R.D.-T. were terminated. This appeal followed.

         Motion for Continuance

         Mother contends the trial court erred by overruling her motion for continuance. A motion for continuance shall not be granted except for sufficient cause supported by affidavit, consent of the parties, or by operation of law. Tex.R.Civ.P. 251. We review the trial court's denial of a motion for continuance for an abuse of discretion. In re R.F., III, 423 S.W.3d 486, 490 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 2014, no pet.). Under this standard, we sustain the trial court's determination unless the trial court acted without reference to any guiding rules and principles, such that its ruling was arbitrary or unreasonable. Id. When a motion for continuance is not made in writing and verified, we presume the trial court properly exercised its discretion. In re E.L.M.M., No. 04-15- 00001-CV, 2015 WL 1914770, at *2 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 2015, no pet.) (mem. op.).

         On April 13, 2017, eleven days prior to trial, Mother's appointed counsel filed a Motion for Continuance, advising that the trial court appointed counsel on October 17, 2016 and that Mother's whereabouts were unknown until April 5, 2017, when Mother contacted counsel for the first time. The reason for the continuance, as stated in the motion, was for counsel to meet with Mother, advise her of the proceedings, and allow Mother to assist in her representation. On April 17, 2017, the trial court signed an order to retain the suit on the court's docket and reset the dismissal date to October 24, 2017. In that order, the trial court additionally reset the trial date from April 24, 2017 to June 9, 2017. A permanency hearing, rather than a trial, took place on June 9, 2017, and the trial court reset the trial date for October 6, 2017. On September 21, 2017, the Department filed a motion for continuance, indicating that an important witness would be unavailable for trial on October 6, 2017. The trial court reset the trial date to October 13, 2017.

         At the beginning of trial, Mother's counsel announced not ready, noting that Mother was not present for trial. The trial court overruled the not-ready announcement. Mother's counsel then informed the trial court he had been unable to reach Mother and that there were witnesses about whom Mother was supposed to provide information. Counsel then requested of the trial court:

I will submit to the Court that [Mother] had filed a motion for continuance previously [on April 13, 2017] in this matter that was not set. I am asking the Court to accept the fiat this morning requesting that continuance … This is our first request for continuance.

         In response, the Department objected to a continuance and pointed out that the case must be heard before October 21, 2017 because of the October 24, 2017 dismissal deadline. The Department additionally pointed out that Mother's availability was still in question and it would be difficult to coordinate schedules in the short period of time. ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.