Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
the 438th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial
Court No. 2016PA02482 Honorable Charles E. Montemayor,
Associate Judge Presiding.
Sitting: Karen Angelini, Justice, Marialyn Barnard, Justice
Rebeca C. Martinez, Justice.
Z. appeals the trial court's order terminating his
parental rights to his daughter, fifteen-year-old
After a bench trial, the trial court found by clear and
convincing evidence that Raymond Z. had (1) knowingly placed
or knowingly allowed his child to remain in conditions or
surroundings that endangered her physical or emotional
well-being, see Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §
161.001(b)(1)(D) (West Supp. 2017); (2) engaged in conduct or
knowingly placed the child with persons who engaged in
conduct which endangers the physical or emotional well-being
of the child, see id. § 161.001(b)(1)(E); (3)
failed to comply with the provisions of a court order that
specifically established the actions necessary for Raymond Z.
to obtain the return of his child who had been in the
permanent or temporary managing conservatorship of the
Department of Family and Protective Services for not less
than nine months as a result of the child's removal from
the parent under Chapter 262 for the abuse or neglect of the
child, see id. § 161.001(b)(1)(O); and (4) used
a controlled substance, as defined by Chapter 481 of the
Health and Safety Code, in a manner that endangered the
health or safety of the child, and (a) failed to complete a
court-ordered substance abuse treatment program; or (b) after
completion of a court-ordered substance abuse treatment
program continued to abuse a controlled substance,
see Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(b)(1)(P)
(West Supp. 2017). The trial court also found by clear and
convincing evidence that termination of Raymond Z.'s
parental rights was in the child's best interest. See
id. § 161.001(b)(2). On appeal, Raymond Z. argues
the evidence is legally and factually insufficient to support
the above findings by the trial court.
trial, the trial court heard testimony from three Department
caseworkers, S.Z.'s counselor, Raymond Z's
counselors, and Raymond Z.
Jones, a Department caseworker, testified that she worked
with the family from September to November 2016. She had
received a referral based on allegations that Victoria M.,
Raymond Z.'s wife and stepmother to S.Z., had abused
narcotics and methadone during her pregnancy with S.Z.'s
half-brother. According to Jones, Victoria M. admitted to
having used methadone during her pregnancy. After speaking to
the family members, Jones offered services to them, including
individual counseling for Raymond Z. and outpatient drug
treatment for Victoria M. When Raymond Z. and Victoria M. did
not comply, Jones decided to remove S.Z. from the home on
November 3, 2016.
to Jones, S.Z. told her that there was physical abuse in the
home, describing times when Victoria M. would assault her,
lock her in her bedroom at night, and accuse her of cutting
Victoria M.'s hair in the middle of the night and putting
roaches in Victoria M.'s shampoo. S.Z. also reported that
Victoria M. and Raymond Z. took her with them to a drug
dealer's house. According to Jones, S.Z. seemed upset and
disturbed by the situation, and reported feeling unsafe at
home. S.Z. also reported that she had witnessed domestic
violence between Victoria M. and Raymond Z., including
instances during which her younger brothers were also
present. Jones testified that both Victoria M. and Raymond Z.
had admitted to domestic violence. According to Jones, S.Z.
had become "extremely parentified"-that is, when
Victoria M. and Raymond Z. engaged in domestic violence, S.Z.
was the one protecting her younger brothers. Jones believed
it was in S.Z.'s best interest to be removed from her
testified that with regard to the services offered, Raymond
Z. and Victoria M. were minimally compliant. Raymond Z. began
counseling but then asked Jones to refer him to a different
counselor because he was having issues paying for the
counseling. According to Jones, Raymond Z. admitted he knew
about issues between S.Z. and Victoria M. and about S.Z.
possibly cutting Victoria M.'s hair in the middle of the
night, putting roaches in Victoria M.'s shampoo, or doing
other things to upset Victoria M. Jones testified that at one
point, Raymond Z. said he wanted family members to take S.Z.
because she was interfering with his relationship with
Victoria M. According to Jones, Raymond Z. admitted he knew
about Victoria M.'s drug use and knew the money he gave
her went to purchase drugs, which she used while taking care
of the children.
Cordova, a Department legal worker assigned to Raymond Z.,
became involved in the case in November 2016 and prepared a
service plan for him. Although Raymond Z. completed his
services, Cordova did not feel as though he had met his goals
associated with the service plan. Part of Raymond Z.'s
plan required him to meet the goal of demonstrating he would
be protective of S.Z. and that he understood his role in the
case. According to Cordova, S.Z. still does not feel like she
can trust Raymond Z. Although Raymond Z. visits with S.Z., he
continues his same behaviors and continues to blame S.Z.
Cordova testified that during the visits, he has shown his
priorities are not on S.Z. Raymond Z. has made false promises
to S.Z., and he has shown her that he still sees her as a
parent during the visits-S.Z. is still the one taking care of
the three younger children. However, Cordova admitted that
recent visits between Raymond Z. and S.Z. had been
appropriate. According to Cordova, Raymond Z. is upset with
S.Z. because the goal in this case is termination of his
parental rights. Cordova testified Raymond Z. is not
currently in a relationship with Victoria M.
testified she does not believe Raymond Z. will adequately
protect S.Z. in the future if she is returned to him.
According to Cordova, S.Z. has talked about the physical
abuse that occurred with Victoria M., which her father knew
about but did not protect her from. According to Cordova,
S.Z. has been consistent about not wanting to go back with
her father. S.Z. has consistently said she does not trust
him, she does not believe him, and she does not feel like he
would protect her. Cordova testified that S.Z. believes that
in the past, Raymond Z. has put her in a position of allowing
her to be abused by someone else. Cordova testified this
behavior by Raymond Z. has been harmful to S.Z.'s
emotional and physical well-being.
also testified that during the pendency of the case, Raymond
Z. tested positive for cocaine twice. Since April 2017,
however, all drug tests have been negative. Also, during the
pendency of the case, Raymond Z. has had three different
girlfriends. Cordova testified that Raymond Z. has completed
everything on his service plan. He has housing and is
employed. But, according to Cordova, he has not met his
goals, partly because S.Z. does not trust him.
testified that S.Z currently lives in a foster home, which
has been a good placement for her but has no potential for
permanency. According to Cordova, S.Z. is doing really well
in school, and since the time she has been in the
Department's care, she has made positive improvements.
S.Z.'s attitude has changed, and she is no longer
quick-tempered. She is working on managing her anger through
therapy. Cordova testified it is in S.Z.'s best interest
to be free for adoption in a stable home that is willing to
allow her to maintain visitation with her siblings.
Gibbs is the caseworker assigned to the companion termination
case involving Raymond Z.'s three sons who are S.Z.'s
half-brothers. Gibbs testified that in June 2017, Raymond Z.
told her that he and Victoria M. had agreed that they would
work their service plans, get their children back, and go
back to being in a relationship. Gibbs admitted, however,
that at the time of trial, she was not aware of Raymond Z.
and Victoria M. being in a relationship. According to Gibbs,
the fact that Raymond Z. and Victoria M. could return to a
relationship concerns the Department because of the domestic
violence and drug issues. Gibbs described the ...