Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
IN THE INTEREST OF A.M.S., K.R.S., R.R.S., A.S., R.I.S., E.R.S., J.A.S., and N.M.S., Children
the 288th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial
Court No. 2017PA01328 Honorable Renée Yanta, Judge
Bryan Marion, Chief Justice Rebeca C. Martinez, Justice Beth
father ("Father") appeals from the trial
court's order terminating his parental rights. On appeal,
Father contends the evidence is legally and factually
insufficient to support the trial court's finding that
termination is in the children's best interests. We
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services ("the
Department") became involved with the family in 2011
based on allegations of drug use by both parents. There was
repeat involvement in 2014 - based on alleged drug use by
Father - and 2016 - based on alleged domestic violence by
Father and claims of attempted sexual assault. With regard to
all three interactions, the Department instituted Family
Based Services. In 2017, one of the children,
thirteen-year-old K.R.S., called 911 from a neighbor's
home, asserting Father was abusing Mother. This time, the
Department removed the children - eight in all - who ranged
in age from infant to teenager. The Department instituted a
legal case, filing a petition seeking termination in the
event reunification could not be attained. The Department
prepared service plans for both parents.
the Department moved to terminate Father's and
Mother's parental rights on numerous grounds. At the
September 2018 final hearing, the trial court received three
days of testimony before terminating Father's parental
rights on multiple grounds and finding termination to be in
the children's best interests. See Tex. Fam. Code
Ann. §§ 161.001(b)(1)(D), (E), (F), (O),
161.001(b)(2). Father appealed.
does not challenge the grounds upon which his parental rights
were terminated. Instead, he only challenges the legal and
factual sufficiency of the evidence supporting the trial
court's best interest finding. See Tex. Fam.
Code § 161.001(b)(2).
and convincing evidence must support a trial court's
findings under section 161.001(b)(2) of the Texas Family Code
("the Code"). See id. § 161.001(b).
"Clear and convincing evidence" is "proof that
will produce in the mind of the trier of fact a firm belief
or conviction as to the truth of the allegations sought to be
established." Id. § 101.007. Courts
require this heightened standard because termination of
parental rights implicates due process. In re A.B.,
437 S.W.3d 498, 502 (Tex. 2015). When reviewing the legal and
factual sufficiency of the evidence, we apply
well-established standards of review. See Tex. Fam.
Code §§ 101.007, 161.206(a); In re J.P.B.,
180 S.W.3d 570, 573 (Tex. 2005) (legal sufficiency); In
re H.R.M., 209 S.W.3d 105, 108 (Tex. 2006) (factual
sufficiency). These standards require that we determine
whether the evidence is such that the trier of fact could
reasonably form a firm belief or conviction that termination
is in the child's best interest. In re J.F.C.,
96 S.W.3d 256, 263 (Tex. 2002).
conducting a sufficiency review, we may not weigh a
witness's credibility because it depends on appearance
and demeanor, and these are within the domain of the trier of
fact. In re J.P.B., 180 S.W.3d at 573. Even when
such issues are found in the appellate record, we must defer
to the fact finder's reasonable resolutions. Id.
best interest analysis, we apply the non-exhaustive
Holley factors. See Holley v. Adams, 544
S.W.2d 367, 371-72 (Tex. 1976). We recognize there is a
strong presumption that keeping a child with a parent is in
the child's best interest. In re R.R., 209
S.W.3d 112, 116 (Tex. 2006). However, promptly and
permanently placing a child in a safe environment is also
presumed to be in the child's best interest. Tex. Fam.
Code § 263.307(a). Therefore, we also consider the best
interest factors set forth in section 263.307(b) of the Code.
Id. § 263.307(b).
conducting a best interest analysis, we consider direct
evidence, circumstantial evidence, subjective factors, and
the totality of the evidence. In re E.D., 419 S.W.3d
615, 620 (Tex. App.- San Antonio 2013, pet. denied).
Additionally, a trier of fact may measure a parent's
future conduct by his past conduct in determining whether
termination is in the child's best interest. Id.
Evidence of each Holley factor is not required
before a court may find that termination is in a child's
best interest. In re C.H., 89 S.W.3d 17, 27 (Tex.
2012). Moreover, in conducting our review of a trial
court's best interest determination, we focus on whether
termination is in the best interest of the child, not the
best interest of the parent. In re D.M., 452 S.W.3d
462, 468-69 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 2014, no pet.).