Appeal from the 318th District Court Midland County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. FM 63, 581.
consists of: Bailey, C.J., Stretcher, J., and Wright, S.C.J.
WRIGHT SENIOR CHIEF JUSTICE.
an appeal from an order in which the trial court terminated
the parental rights of the mother and the father of A.M.J.
The father appeals. He presents two issues: one in which he
complains of the admission of hearsay and one in which he
challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support the
best interest finding. We affirm.
termination of parental rights must be supported by clear and
convincing evidence. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(b)
(West Supp. 2018). To terminate parental rights, it must be
shown by clear and convincing evidence that the parent has
committed one of the acts listed in Section
161.001(b)(1)(A)-(U) and that termination is in the best
interest of the child. Id.
case, the trial court found that the father had committed
four of the acts listed in Section 161.001(b)(1)-those found
in subsections (D), (E), (N), and (O). Specifically, the
trial court found that the father had knowingly placed or
knowingly allowed the child to remain in conditions or
surroundings that endangered the child's physical or
emotional well-being, that the father had engaged in conduct
or knowingly placed the child with persons who engaged in
conduct that endangered the child's physical or emotional
well-being, that the father had constructively abandoned the
child, and that the father had failed to comply with the
provisions of a court order that specifically established the
actions necessary for him to obtain the return of the child.
The trial court also found, pursuant to Section
161.001(b)(2), that termination of the father's parental
rights would be in the best interest of the child.
appeal, the father challenges the legal and factual
sufficiency of the evidence with respect to the trial
court's best interest finding. To determine if the
evidence is legally sufficient in a parental termination
case, we review all of the evidence in the light most
favorable to the finding and determine whether a rational
trier of fact could have formed a firm belief or conviction
that its finding was true. In re J.P.B., 180 S.W.3d
570, 573 (Tex. 2005). To determine if the evidence is
factually sufficient, we give due deference to the finding
and determine whether, on the entire record, a factfinder
could reasonably form a firm belief or conviction about the
truth of the allegations against the parent. In re
C.H., 89 S.W.3d 17, 25-26 (Tex. 2002).
respect to the best interest of a child, no unique set of
factors need be proved. In re C.J.O., 325 S.W.3d
261, 266 (Tex. App.-Eastland 2010, pet. denied). But courts
may use the non-exhaustive Holley factors to shape
their analysis. Holley v. Adams, 544 S.W.2d 367,
371-72 (Tex. 1976). These include, but are not limited to,
(1) the desires of the child, (2) the emotional and physical
needs of the child now and in the future, (3) the emotional
and physical danger to the child now and in the future, (4)
the parental abilities of the individuals seeking custody,
(5) the programs available to assist these individuals to
promote the best interest of the child, (6) the plans for the
child by these individuals or by the agency seeking custody,
(7) the stability of the home or proposed placement, (8) the
acts or omissions of the parent that may indicate that the
existing parent-child relationship is not a proper one, and
(9) any excuse for the acts or omissions of the parent.
Id. Additionally, evidence that proves one or more
statutory grounds for termination may also constitute
evidence illustrating that termination is in the child's
best interest. C.J.O., 325 S.W.3d at 266.
Department of Family and Protective Services received an
intake that included allegations of drug abuse, domestic
violence, and physical neglect of the child by the father.
The child was removed from the father's home after an
investigation by the Department. At that time, A.M.J. was two
years old. The family was living in deplorable conditions.
The father's house had no running water, and the toilet
was three-fourths full of solid waste. Wiring inside the
house was exposed. Dirty clothes were strewn about
everywhere. Four children and two adults were sleeping in the
same bedroom, where there were two mattresses on the floor,
because that was the only room in the house that was heated.
In the room next to the bedroom, the roof was partially caved
in. Also, there were lots of random people in and out of the
home, and A.M.J.'s mother indicated that "they were
involved in drugs." Furthermore, although the father
denied it, other evidence indicated that he was violent and
engaged in domestic violence.
father had been involved with the Department in the past. The
father admitted to having problems with alcohol and marihuana
and said that he could not stay clean long enough to maintain
a job. At the time of the removal, the father was arrested
based on a warrant for failure to appear that was related to
a charge of felony driving while intoxicated. At the time of
trial, the father had pleaded true to a motion to revoke the
felony DWI and was in jail due to a pending charge of forgery
of a financial instrument. The father had no idea how long he
would be incarcerated. The father admitted to a
"small" criminal history, including drug possession
and several DWIs; he denied that his criminal history
included burglary. He testified that he had been arrested for
the possession of cocaine but said that marihuana was his
drug of choice. While this case was pending, the father
tested positive for methamphetamine. Between the time of
removal and the time of trial, the father had visited A.M.J.
only about six times, and he had not seen her in
approximately five months.
A.M.J. was removed, the Department could not find a suitable
family member that was available as a placement. The father
was ordered by the trial court to comply with the provisions
of his family service plan so that A.M.J. could be returned
to him; the father did not do so. A.M.J. was placed in a
foster-to-adopt home and was doing very well there.
Department's goal for A.M.J. was the termination of both
parents' parental rights and adoption by the foster
parents. The Department believed that termination of both
parents' rights would be in A.M.J.'s best interest.
The child's guardian ad litem, a CASA volunteer,
recommended that the trial court terminate both parents'
parental rights and leave A.M.J. in the foster-to-adopt home.
second issue, the father challenges the legal and factual
sufficiency of the evidence to support the trial court's
best interest finding. We note that the trier of fact is the
sole judge of the credibility of the witnesses at trial and
that we are not at liberty to disturb the determinations of
the trier of fact as long as those determinations are not
unreasonable. J.P.B., 180 S.W.3d at 573. We have
considered the record as it relates to the desires of the
child (who was too young to express a desire), the emotional
and physical needs of the child now and in the future, the
emotional and physical danger to the child now and in the
future, the parental abilities of the father and of the
persons with whom the child was placed, the Department's
plans for the child, the father's inability to provide a
safe home for the child, the father's use of
methamphetamine, the father's history of alcohol and drug
abuse, the deplorable conditions of the father's home,
the father's failure to comply with his court-ordered
services, and the father's criminal history.
trial court could reasonably have formed a firm belief or
conviction, based on clear and convincing evidence presented
at trial and the Holley factors, that termination of
the father's parental rights would be in A.M.J.'s
best interest. See Holley, 544 S.W.2d at 371-72.
Therefore, we hold that the evidence is legally and factually
sufficient to support the finding that termination of the