Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
IN THE INTEREST OF A.S.A. and A.S.A., Minor Children
the 25th Judicial District Court, Guadalupe County, Texas
Trial Court No. 17-1794-CV-C Honorable Thomas Nathaniel
Stuckey, Judge Presiding
Sitting: Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice Luz Elena D. Chapa,
Justice Liza A. Rodriguez, Justice
Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice.
appeals the trial court's order terminating his parental
rights to his children A.S.A. and A.S.A. Dad asserts the
trial court could not have found by clear and convincing
evidence that terminating his parental rights is in the
children's best interests. We affirm the trial
August 8, 2017, the Department conducted an unannounced home
visit based on a report of negligent supervision. The report
indicated Mom was using cocaine at a friend's home, and
Mom left her younger child with a person who was also using
cocaine. Mom's oral swab tested positive for
cocaine and marijuana. The Department petitioned for
conservatorship; the trial court appointed it as the
children's temporary managing conservator and ordered Dad
to complete a service plan. After a one-day bench trial, the
trial court found by clear and convincing evidence that
Dad's course of conduct met Family Code section
161.001(b)(1)'s grounds (D), (E), and (O), and
terminating Dad's parental rights was in the best
interests of the children. Dad appeals.
Required, Standards of Review
evidentiary standardsi the Department must meet
and the statutory groundsii the trial court must
find to terminate a parent's rights to a child are well
known, as are the legaliii and factualiv
sufficiency standards of review. We apply them here.
for Terminating Dad's Parental Rights
Dad's Course of Parental Conduct
does not challenge the trial court's findings that
Dad's course of conduct met statutory grounds (D), (E),
and (O). See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §
161.001(b)(1)(D), (E), (O).
Best Interests of the Children
challenges the sufficiency of the evidence for the trial
court's finding that terminating his parental rights is
in his children's best interests. See id. §
161.001(b)(2). The Family Code statutory factorsv
and the Holley factorsvi for best
interests of the children are well known. Applying each
standard of review and the applicable statutory and common
law factors, we examine the evidence pertaining to the best
interests of the children.
Witnesses at Trial
one-day bench trial, the trial court heard testimony from
Alexis Villanueva and Sonya Riley, the Department case
workers; Dr. Jacob Pickard, a clinical psychologist; Rosemary
Coates, a licensed professional counselor; the foster mom;
and Appellant. The trial court also heard 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);
cf. In re H.R.M., 209 S.W.3d 105, 108 (Tex. 2006)
Evidence of Best Interests of the Children
trial court heard the following testimony.
psychologist noted that when Dad answered his questions, he
was manipulative and dishonest. He gave misleading or
incomplete answers, particularly about the degree of domestic
violence he committed, the frequency and amount of alcohol he
drank, and the nature of his relationship with Mom. Dad tried
to coerce Mom to lie. Dad and Mom have a troubled
relationship: Dad abuses alcohol and commits domestic
violence; Mom uses illegal drugs and neglects the children.
Others testified that since 2012, Mom and Dad's conduct
prompted at least four Department investigations.
becomes angry and violent when he drinks, and his prolonged
history of alcohol abuse has led to criminal offenses.
Dad's criminal history over the ten years before trial
included three previous convictions for assault causing
bodily injury-two with a family violence finding.
the plan period, Dad consistently refused to take personal
responsibility for his conduct that adversely affected the
children. At trial, Dad expressed some degree of
responsibility for his actions, but the psychologist and the
case workers testified otherwise. Dad also failed to provide
a home environment that would be safe and secure for the