IN THE INTEREST OF A.E.T. AND A.D.T., CHILDREN
the County Court at Law Ellis County, Texas Trial Court No.
Chief Justice Gray, Justice Davis, and Justice Neill
GRAY Chief Justice
T. appeals from a judgment that terminated his parental
rights to his children, A.E.T. and A.D.T. See Tex.
Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001. In six issues, Brian complains
that the evidence was legally and factually insufficient for
the trial court to have found the five predicate acts upon
which the termination was based to be true (Issues One
through Five) and that termination was in the best interest
of the children (Issue Six). Because we find that the
evidence was legally and factually sufficient as to Section
161.001(b)(1)(E) and the best interest finding, we affirm the
judgment of the trial court.
standards of review for legal and factual sufficiency in
termination cases are well established. In re
J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d 256, 264-68 (Tex. 2002) (legal
sufficiency); In re C.H., 89 S.W.3d 17, 25 (Tex.
2002) (factual sufficiency). In reviewing the legal
sufficiency of the evidence, we view all the evidence in the
light most favorable to the finding to determine whether a
trier of fact could reasonably have formed a firm belief or
conviction about the truth of the Department's
allegations. In re J.L., 163 S.W.3d 79, 84-85 (Tex.
2005); J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d at 265-66. We do not,
however, disregard undisputed evidence that does not support
the finding. J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d at 266.
reviewing the factual sufficiency of the evidence, we must
give due consideration to evidence that the factfinder could
reasonably have found to be clear and convincing. In re
C.H., 89 S.W.3d at 25. We must consider the disputed
evidence and determine whether a reasonable factfinder could
have resolved that evidence in favor of the finding.
Id. If the disputed evidence is so significant that
a factfinder could not reasonably have formed a firm belief
or conviction, the evidence is factually insufficient.
factfinder is the sole arbiter when assessing the credibility
and demeanor of witnesses. In re A.B., 437 S.W.3d
498, 503 (Tex. 2014); In re H.R.M., 209 S.W.3d 105,
109 (Tex. 2006) (per curiam). We may not second-guess the
factfinder's resolution of a factual dispute by relying
on disputed evidence or evidence the factfinder "could
easily have rejected as not credible." In re
L.M.I., 119 S.W.3d 707, 712 (Tex. 2003).
Code Section 161.001(b)(1)(E)
second issue, Brian challenges the legal and factual
sufficiency of the evidence to support the trial court's
findings regarding the predicate act listed in subsection
161.001(b)(1)(E) of the Texas Family Code. Tex. Fam. Code
Ann. § 161.001(b)(1)(E) (West 2014). Subsection (E)
permits termination when clear and convincing evidence shows
that the parent has "engaged in conduct or knowingly
placed the child with persons who engaged in conduct that
endangers the physical or emotional well-being of the
child." Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(b)(1)(E)
(West 2014). Within the context of subsection (E),
endangerment encompasses "more than a threat of
metaphysical injury or the possible ill effects of a
less-than-ideal family environment." Tex. Dep't
of Human Servs. v. Boyd, 727 S.W.2d 531, 533 (Tex.
1987). Instead, "endanger" means to expose a child
to loss or injury or to jeopardize a child's emotional or
physical health. Id.; see also In re M.C.,
917 S.W.2d 268, 269 (Tex. 1996).
not necessary to establish that a parent intended to endanger
a child in order to support termination of the parent-child
relationship under subsection (E). See In re M.C.,
917 S.W.2d at 270. The specific danger to the child's
well-being may be inferred from parental misconduct standing
alone. Boyd, 727 S.W.2d at 533.
contemplates a voluntary, deliberate, and conscious course of
conduct by the parent. In re S.R., 452 S.W.3d 351,
361 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2014, pet. denied).
"Endangerment can occur through both acts and
omissions." Phillips v. Texas Dep't of
Protective & Regulatory Servs., 25 S.W.3d 348, 354
(Tex. App.-Austin 2000, no pet.). The statute does not
require that conduct be directed at a child or cause actual
harm; rather, it is sufficient if the parent's conduct
endangers the well-being of the child. See Walker v. Tex.
Dep't of Family & Protective Servs., 312 S.W.3d
608, 617 (Tex. App.- Houston [1st Dist.] 2009, pet. denied).
Actions and inactions occurring both before and after a
child's birth can be considered to establish a
"course of conduct." In re S.M., 389
S.W.3d 483, 491-92 (Tex. App.-El Paso 2012, no pet.). A
parent's past endangering conduct may create an inference
that the parent's past conduct may recur and further
jeopardize a child's present or future physical or
emotional well-being. See In re D.M., 58 S.W.3d 801,
812 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 2001, no pet.).
parent's use of illegal drugs, and its effect on his or
her ability to parent, may qualify as endangering conduct.
See In re J.O.A., 283 S.W.3d 336, 345 (Tex. 2009).
Illegal drug use may support termination under subsection (E)
because it exposes the child to the possibility that the
parent may be impaired or imprisoned. Walker, 312
S.W.3d at 617-18 (upholding termination of parental rights
despite there being no direct evidence of parent's
continued drug use actually injuring child).
a parent's criminal conduct and imprisonment are relevant
to the question of whether the parent engaged in a course of
conduct that endangered the well-being of the child. In
re S.R., 452 S.W.3d at 360-61. Imprisonment alone is not
an endangering course of conduct but is a fact properly
considered on the endangerment issue. Boyd, 727
S.W.2d at 533-34. Routinely subjecting a child to the
probability the child will be left ...