Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo
Appeal from the County Court at Law No. 1 Randall County,
Texas Trial Court No. 71, 634-L1, Honorable Jack M. Graham,
QUINN, C.J., and CAMPBELL and PARKER, JJ.
father of M.V., appeals from an order terminating his
parental rights to M.V. Through two issues, he contends the
evidence was neither legally nor factually sufficient to
support the statutory grounds for termination. We affirm.
pertinent standards of review are those discussed in In
re J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d 256, 266 (Tex. 2002) and In re
C.F.M., 07-17-00436-CV, 2018 Tex.App. LEXIS 3058, at
*3-4 (Tex. App.-Amarillo, May 1, 2018, no pet.) (mem. op.).
We forego discussion of the standards here and, instead,
refer the litigants to those opinions for an explanation of
the statutory grounds for termination found to exist by the
trial court included §§ 161.001(b)(1)(D) and (E).
Per the former, termination may occur when the parent
knowingly placed or knowingly allowed the child to remain in
conditions or surroundings which endangered the physical or
emotional well-being of the child. Tex. Fam. Code
Ann. § 161.001(b)(1)(D) (West Supp. 2017). Per
the latter, termination may occur when the parent engaged in
conduct or knowingly placed the child with persons who
engaged in conduct which endangered the physical or emotional
well-being of the child. Id. §
161.001(b)(1)(E). Evidence illustrating the existence of
either ground would obligate us to affirm the trial
court's decision here. See In re C.F.M., 2018
Tex.App. LEXIS 3058, at *7 (stating that proof of only one
statutory ground is required to support termination).
address the evidence underlying § 161.001(b)(1)(D)
first. The latter requires a showing that the environment in
which the child was placed endangered the child's
physical or emotional health. In re X.S., No.
07-17-00422-CV, 2018 Tex.App. LEXIS 2735, at *12 (Tex.
App.-Amarillo, Apr. 18, 2018, no pet.) (mem. op.).
Furthermore, inappropriate, abusive, or unlawful conduct by
persons living with the child or with whom the child is
compelled to associate on a regular basis form part of the
child's conditions and surroundings, i.e.
environment. Id. And, within the scope of conduct
affecting the child's environment and potentially
endangering the child falls a parent's continuing use of
drugs. Id. at *13.
we have evidence illustrating that S.C. is the biological
father of M.V. Within months of the child's birth in
2016, SC was arrested, tried, and convicted of possessing
illegal narcotics; apparently, he was a heroin dealer. And,
this 2016 conviction resulted in the assessment of an
eighteen-year prison term, which he was serving at time of
trial. Though he denied using heroin himself, the record
contains evidence illustrating that he used other intoxicants
such as marijuana and alcohol. His use of alcohol also
resulted in him engaging in violent activity directed at
M.V.'s mother, M.
aforementioned conviction was not S.C.'s only one,
however. They included convictions for driving while
intoxicated, assault, and engaging in terroristic threats and
2016 arrest also resulted in M.V. being left with M. In
addition to being the child's biological mother, she
danced periodically at a local strip club, abused
methamphetamine, and failed to maintain steady employment.
All of these were circumstances about which S.C. knew.
See In re J.O.A., 283 S.W.3d 336, 346 (Tex. 2009)
(mentioning a parent's willingness to permit the child to
leave with another parent who used drugs as a circumstance
endangering a child); In re A.P.S., No.
07-11-00476-CV, 2012 Tex.App. LEXIS 4040, at *11-12 (Tex.
App.-Amarillo, May 21, 2012, no pet.) (mem. op.) (mentioning
the same). And, when asked if he knew where M. left the
child, he not only replied in the negative but also said that
she "was dropping her [M.V.] off anywhere she
could." "Anywhere she could" included the
abode of S.C.'s current wife (Step-Mom), whom he married
while in prison. In at least one instance, M. left the child
with Step-Mom for an extended period and without disclosing
grew concerned about the child's situation and contacted
the Department of Family and Protective Services. That was
something S.C. neglected to do even though he 1) was in
communication with people who could have done that for him
and 2) believed M. could have done a better job parenting his
only daughter. Nor did S.C. provide the child with financial
support or arrange with others to support his child.
child was placed with M.'s sister once the Department
intervened. Furthermore, SC voiced surprise at the removal of
the child from a home wherein the only remaining parent
abused drugs, worked sporadically, and left the child
"anywhere she could." M. eventually agreed to
voluntarily end her parental relationship with M.V., and the
child was left with no other parent to provide direct comfort
and care, given S.C.'s continuing imprisonment.
foregoing is ample evidence to enable a reasonable factfinder
to form a firm belief or conviction that S.C. knowingly
placed and allowed M.V. to remain in conditions or
surroundings that endangered the child's physical or
emotional well-being. This is true irrespective of whether
one applies the legal or factual sufficiency standard of
review. Indeed, SC was familiar with the unstable home
environment to which M.V. was exposed and the deficient
parenting skills of M.; yet, he did little to intercede or
have others intercede on behalf of the child. Accordingly,
the evidence was and is both legally and factually sufficient
to support termination under § 161.001(b)(1)(D) of the
Texas Family Code. So too would it support termination under
subsection (E) of the same code.
overrule the first issue involving subsections (D) and (E).
Since our resolution of issue one disposes of the appeal, we
need not address S.C.'s second ...