Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
the 285th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial
Court No. 2017-PA-01431 Honorable Karen H. Pozza, Judge
Sitting: Luz Elena D. Chapa, Justice, Beth Watkins, Justice
Liza A. Rodriguez, Justice
Elena D. Chapa, Justice
Father appeals an order terminating
the parent-child relationship between him and C.C.M. He
argues the evidence is insufficient to support findings
required for the order. We affirm the trial court's
Department filed suit for conservatorship of C.C.M. (born in
2010) and termination of Father's parental rights. C.C.M.
was removed from Father's care based on concerns of
physical abuse by Father's girlfriend, G.G. C.C.M. was
placed with her paternal grandmother.
case proceeded to a bench trial, at which several witnesses
testified. The case was tried together with a separate case
involving Father's three younger daughters, C., M., and
One of the Department's primary concerns in this case was
Father's ability to protect C.C.M. from abuse by G.G.
After trial, the trial court rendered an order terminating
Father's parental rights under section 161.001 of the
Texas Family Code. Father timely appealed.
of Review & Statutory Requirements
terminate parental rights under section 161.001 of the Texas
Family Code, the Department must prove by clear and
convincing evidence: (1) one of the grounds in subsection
161.001(b)(1); and (2) termination is in the best interest of
the child. See Tex. Fam. Code §§ 161.001,
161.206(a); In re A.V., 113 S.W.3d 355, 362 (Tex.
2003). In this case, the trial court found, by clear and
convincing evidence, four grounds in subsection 161.001(b)(1)
and that termination of Father's parental rights is in
C.C.M.'s best interest.
argues the evidence is legally and factually insufficient to
support these findings. We evaluate the legal and factual
sufficiency of the evidence to support the trial court's
findings under the standard of review established by the
Texas Supreme Court in In re J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d 256,
266-67 (Tex. 2002). Under this standard, "[t]he trial
court is the sole judge of the weight and credibility of the
evidence, including the testimony of the Department's
witness[es]." In re F.M., No. 04-16-00516-CV,
2017 WL 393610, at *4 (Tex. App.-San Antonio Jan. 30, 2017,
no pet.) (mem. op.).
first four issues, Father challenges the trial court's
four findings of grounds for termination. The trial court
found Father failed to complete court-ordered provisions of
his family service plan, failed to support C.C.M., knowingly
endangered C.C.M. based on her conditions or surroundings,
and knowingly endangered C.C.M. by engaging in conduct or
placing her with persons who engaged in conduct endangering
C.C.M.'s wellbeing. See Tex. Fam. Code §
161.001(b)(1)(D), (E), (F), (O). A finding of only one ground
is necessary. See In re D.J.H., 381 S.W.3d 606,
611-12 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 2012, no pet.).
begin by considering the trial court's finding regarding
knowing endangerment by conduct, the Department's primary
concern at trial. Section 161.001(b)(1)(E) provides a ground
for a termination when a parent has "knowingly placed
the child with persons who engaged in conduct which endangers
the physical or emotional well-being of the child."
See Tex. Fam. Code § 161.001(b)(1)(E).
"Endanger" means to expose a child to loss or
injury or jeopardize a child's emotional or physical
well-being. See In re M.C., 917 S.W.2d 268, 269
(Tex. 1996) (per curiam).
trial, Father described his family's living situation as
a "violence environment." He testified he had
learned G.G. had bruised C.C.M.'s lip by hitting her in
the face, and he called the police two days after he learned
about the incident. Father also testified he was aware that,
before this incident, G.G. had purposefully burned
C.C.M.'s hand with an iron or curling iron, and he would
leave C.C.M. in G.G.'s care while he was away at work. He
testified the children were possibly in danger of being
physically abused ...