Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
IN THE INTEREST OF A. N., ET AL., CHILDREN
the 38th Judicial District Court, Medina County, Texas Trial
Court No. 18-01-24656-CV Honorable Cathy O. Morris, Judge
Sitting: Rebeca C. Martinez, Justice Patricia O. Alvarez,
Justice Irene Rios, Justice
a bench trial, Father's parental rights were terminated
as to his three children, Jessie, Jason, and
Joey. The trial court then appointed the
children's maternal great-grandmother as managing
conservator and Mother as possessory conservator. The only
issue presented by Father on appeal is whether the evidence
is legally and factually sufficient to support the trial
court's finding that termination was in the
children's best interest. We affirm the trial court's
January 22, 2018, the Texas Department of Family and
Protective Services ("Department") filed a petition
to terminate parental rights. A bench trial was held before
an associate judge on November 20, 2018, following which the
associate judge signed an order terminating Father's
parental rights to Jessie, Jason, and Joey. Thereafter,
Father requested a de novo hearing, which was held on January
15, 2019. At the de novo hearing, the trial court took
judicial notice of the reporter's record and exhibits
from the initial hearing. The trial court also heard additional
testimony. On March 6, 2019, the trial court signed a Final
De Novo Order of Termination of Parental Rights terminating
Father's parental rights to Jessie, Jason, and Joey.
of Review and Statutory Requirements
terminate parental rights pursuant to section 161.001 of the
Texas Family Code, the Department has the burden to prove by
clear and convincing evidence: (1) one of the predicate
grounds in subsection 161.001(b)(1); and (2) that termination
is in the best interest of the child. See Tex. Fam.
Code Ann. §§ 161.001, 161.206(a); In re
A.V., 113 S.W.3d 355, 362 (Tex. 2003). In this case, the
trial court found evidence of three predicate grounds to
terminate Father's parental rights. The trial court
also found termination of Father's parental rights was in
the best interest of the children.
reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence, we apply the
well-established standards of review. See Tex. Fam.
Code Ann. §§ 101.007, 161.206(a); In re
H.R.M., 209 S.W.3d 105, 108 (Tex. 2006) (factual
sufficiency); In re J.P.B., 180 S.W.3d 570, 573
(Tex. 2005) (legal sufficiency).
considering the best interest of the child, we recognize the
existence of a strong presumption that the child's best
interest is served by preserving the parent-child
relationship. In re R.R., 209 S.W.3d 112, 116 (Tex.
2006). However, we also presume that prompt and permanent
placement of the child in a safe environment is in the
child's best interest. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §
263.307(a) (West 2014).
determining whether a child's parent is willing and able
to provide the child with a safe environment, we consider the
factors set forth in Family Code section 263.307(b).
See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 263.307(b). We also
apply the Holley factors to our
analysis. See Holley v. Adams, 544 S.W.2d
367, 371-72 (Tex. 1976). These factors are not exhaustive.
In re C.H., 89 S.W.3d 17, 27 (Tex. 2002). "The
absence of evidence about some of these considerations would
not preclude a factfinder from reasonably forming a strong
conviction or belief that termination is in the child's
best interest, particularly if the evidence were undisputed
that the parental relationship endangered the safety of the
child." Id. In analyzing these factors, the
court must focus on the best interest of the child, not the
best interest of the parent. Dupree v. Tex. Dept. of
Protective & Regulatory Servs., 907 S.W.2d 81, 86
(Tex. App.-Dallas 1995, no writ).
that proves one or more statutory ground for termination may
also constitute evidence illustrating that termination is in
the child's best interest. In re C.H., 89 S.W.3d
17, 28 (Tex. 2002) (holding same evidence may be probative of
both section 161.001(b)(1) grounds and best interest, but
such evidence does not relieve the State of its burden to
prove best interest). "A best interest analysis may
consider circumstantial evidence, subjective factors, and the
totality of the evidence as well as the direct
evidence." See In re E.D., 419 S.W.3d 615, 620
(Tex. App.- San Antonio 2013, pet. denied). "A trier of