Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth
Appeal from the 235th District Court Cooke County, Texas
Trial Court No. CV15-00769
Birdwell, Bassel, and Womack, JJ.
a private termination proceeding in which the parental rights
of Appellant C.W. (Father) to his son Blake were terminated
on the petition of Appellee D.S. (Mother) following a bench
trial. In two issues, Father argues that the trial court
abused its discretion by not appointing an ad litem to
represent Blake and challenges the sufficiency of the
evidence to support the termination of his parental rights to
Blake. Because the record does not demonstrate that the trial
court abused its discretion by not appointing an ad litem for
Blake and because sufficient evidence supports an
unchallenged predicate ground of termination, we affirm.
the termination trial, the trial court heard testimony from
Mother, Paternal Grandmother, Paternal Grandfather, Paternal
Great Aunt, and Paternal Uncle.
and Father never married. Mother testified that she and
Father were together about two years and stayed together
about six months after Blake was born in 2013. At the time of
the termination trial, Mother testified that Blake was five
years old and was in kindergarten.
testified that when she and Father had dated, he had
assaulted her, but she did not file charges. Mother testified
that when she was pregnant with Blake, Father yelled at her,
pushed her up against a wall, and then held her down in the
front yard. Mother said that Father had been violent towards
her while Blake was present by verbally abusing her when
Blake was only a few months old to a year old.
record demonstrates that in 2015, Father was charged with
aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and was placed on
deferred-adjudication community supervision. Mother testified
that Father's criminal charge was a result of his
assaulting his then-girlfriend.
had concerns that Father was using drugs around the same
time.Mother testified that Father's drug
usage created a situation that had endangered Blake's
physical and emotional well-being. Mother explained that
Father had anger issues and was very violent when he was on
drugs. Mother said that Father had demonstrated violent
tendencies toward his family,  his ex-girlfriend, and Mother.
Mother testified that, to her knowledge, Father had not been
violent towards Blake.
testified that her concerns about Father's drug use were
confirmed when his community supervision was revoked due to
failed drug tests and he was adjudicated guilty of aggravated
assault with a deadly weapon. A copy of the judgment
adjudicating Father's guilt was admitted into evidence.
The judgment reflects that Father was placed on
deferred-adjudication community supervision in 2015; that the
State filed a motion to adjudicate, alleging that Father had
violated multiple conditions of his community
supervision; that he pleaded true to the alleged
violations; and that the trial court found the allegations to
be true, adjudicated Father guilty of aggravated assault, and
sentenced him to ten years' confinement. The record
reflects that Father's parole eligibility date is January
Father tested positive for drugs, Mother filed her petition
to terminate his parental rights in April 2018. In addition
to Mother's concern that Father's drug usage might
cause him to injure Blake, Mother testified that Father did
not make any child support payments during 2017 and that he
was not in prison and was able to make payments during that
testified that before Father went to prison, his involvement
with Blake was "[v]ery little." Mother said that
Blake would visit often with Paternal Grandparents but that
Father never picked up Blake or brought him back to Mother.
Mother explained that there were occasions when it was
Father's visitation time, but Paternal Grandparents would
visit with Blake while Father went out partying with his
was not sure if Father loved Blake. Mother said that Father
"had five years to see [Blake]. He could have c[o]me and
seen him anytime he wanted, and he never did."
testified that by the time of the termination trial, she had
been married to T.S. for almost a year, that they had dated
for several years prior to marriage, that he had been in
Blake's life for four years, and that T.S. was the only
real father figure that Blake had known. Mother testified
that T.S. planned to adopt Blake. Mother said that Blake had
talked to her about changing his last name and wondered why
his last name was different from hers. Mother requested that
the trial court change Blake's last name to T.S.'s
last name due to the poor reputation associated with
Father's last name as a result of his criminal
opined that it was in Blake's best interest for the trial
court to terminate Father's parental rights. Mother also
requested that the trial court appoint her as sole managing
conservator of Blake.
cross-examination, Mother testified that she loved Paternal
Grandparents and that they got along well with Blake. Mother
said that Paternal Grandparents had offered her money to help
her out and that she had "kindly told them that [she]
didn't need it." Mother testified that Blake was on
her insurance at work, so she did not use the Medicaid that
Paternal Grandparents had renewed on Father's behalf for
the benefit of Blake.
testified that she had seen Father be verbally defiant
towards Paternal Grandparents and refuse their instruction.
As a result, Mother was concerned about Blake's going to
visit Paternal Grandparents after Father gets out of prison.
Mother had spoken to Paternal Grandparents about her
concerns, but they would not agree to her request to not
allow Father around Blake because they wanted Father to be
allowed to be around Blake at family gatherings.
trial court asked Mother why it would be in Blake's best
interest for Father's parental rights to be terminated,
and she said,
[Father's] had violence, drug abuse, and anger issues. He
hasn't been a father. He's had five years to be a
father[, ] and he hasn't. I don't want [Blake] seeing
the way he lives. It would be in [Blake's] best interest,
his safety and well-being, for my current husband to raise
him and teach him the way of life. [Father], I don't see
him doing that.
Paternal Grandmother's Testimony
Grandmother testified that she and her husband have a very
close relationship with Blake. Paternal Grandmother said that
she called Mother whenever she wanted to see Blake and that
Mother had been very cooperative in allowing Paternal
Grandparents to see Blake. Paternal Grandmother admitted that
Mother had been a great mother to Blake.
Grandmother testified that when Father was not using drugs,
he was "amazing." Paternal Grandmother said that
Father began using drugs at the end of high school and had
used drugs off and on for eight years. Paternal Grandmother
knew that Father had used K2, but she did not know that he
had used methamphetamine and Xanax. Paternal Grandmother
admitted that when Father was doing drugs, he would push her,
yell at her, and scream at her and Paternal Grandfather.
Paternal Grandmother did not recall an incident in which
Father had hit her with a broom.
Grandmother testified that Father truly loves Blake and wants
to see Blake even though Blake is too young to visit Father
in prison. Paternal Grandmother said that Father had not been
"influential the whole time" and that he had
regretted not spending as much time with Blake as he could
have. Paternal Grandmother testified that when Father had
spent time with Blake, they had ridden four-wheelers, had
gone fishing, and had hung out and enjoyed their time
together. Paternal Grandmother testified that Father and
Blake "truly have a bond" and that Blake asks about
Father "all the time."
Grandmother testified that it would not be in Blake's
best interest for the trial court to terminate Father's
parental rights because
[Father] loves [Blake] very much. He went through some real
bad times, and we don't condone anything that he did. He
made some bad choices. But I don't feel that terminating
[Blake's] relationship [with Father] should be done
because of that. He is in the penitentiary. He is -- once he
gets to his permanent place, he is taking classes to work
with his problem -- problems that he has.
He -- he's never hurt [Blake], never hit [Blake], never
in any way showed any kind of hostility towards [Blake]. His
-- when he had hostility with other people, I do blame it on
the drugs he was doing. But he's going to be in there
five years. He is going to be drug free when he comes out.
He's going to church every Sunday. I just don't
believe that terminating [Blake's] relationship with his
father would do any justice for either one of them.
Grandmother said that it would be in Blake's best
interest to have contact with his family.
cross-examination, Paternal Grandmother admitted that someone
who had abused drugs and had committed aggravated assault
with a deadly weapon was not a good, stable parent. Paternal
Grandmother could not guarantee that Father would stay clean
after he is released from prison. Paternal Grandmother agreed
that it concerned her that Father could not stay clean and
follow the court's orders back when he was on community
supervision and was facing up to twenty years in prison.
Paternal Grandfather's Testimony
Grandfather admitted that he and Father had engaged in verbal
altercations but not physical altercations. Paternal
Grandfather did not condone Father's "prior
Grandfather opined that Father loves Blake. Paternal
Grandfather testified that before Father went to prison, he
visited with Blake when they brought him to their house as
long as it was not during Father's work hours. Paternal
Grandfather said that Blake cried every time they took him
home because he did not want to go home. Paternal Grandfather
testified that taking Blake away from his family was not in
Blake's best interest.
cross-examination, Paternal Grandfather testified that he was
unaware of Father's drug use when Father was living in a
small apartment behind Paternal Grandparents' home while
he was on community supervision. Paternal Grandfather agreed
that Father had been given numerous opportunities to get
clean and to be a good father to Blake and that in spite of
those opportunities, Father had not taken advantage of them
and would be in prison until ...