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In re H.B.C.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

August 21, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF H.B.C., S.C.C., and A.S.C., Children

          From the 288th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2018-PA-01024 Honorable H. Paul Canales, Judge Presiding

          Sitting: Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice Luz Elena D. Chapa, Justice Beth Watkins, Justice

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          PATRICIA O. ALVAREZ, JUSTICE.

         Appellant Mom appeals the trial court's order terminating her parental rights to her children H.B.C., S.C.C., and A.S.C.[*] Mom asserts the evidence is neither legally nor factually sufficient to support the trial court's best interest findings. We affirm the trial court's order.

         Background

         On May 11, 2018, based on a report of domestic violence, physical abuse, and illegal drug use in the home, the Department was granted temporary sole managing conservatorship of the children. The children were removed from the home, and Mom was placed on a service plan.[**]

         The teenage children were interviewed while Mom was in jail for assaulting her boyfriend. They reported that Mom had physically abused them, hitting them hard enough to leave marks and bruises, and Mom had offered H.B.C. marijuana. After one year, Mom had not completed her service plan. Citing grounds (D), (E), (N), and (O), and the best interests of the children, the trial court terminated Mom's parental rights to H.B.C., S.C.C., and A.S.C. Mom appeals.

         Evidence Required, Standards of Review

         The evidentiary standards[1] the Department must meet and the statutory grounds[2] the trial court must find to terminate a parent's rights to a child are well known, as are the legal[3] and factual[4]sufficiency standards of review. We apply them here.

         Bases for Terminating Mom's Parental Rights

         A. Mom's Course of Parental Conduct

         The trial court found Mom's course of conduct met statutory grounds (D), (E), (N), and (O). See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(b)(1)(D), (E), (N), (O). On appeal, Mom does not challenge the trial court's statutory grounds findings.

         B. Best Interests of the Children

         Instead, Mom challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the trial court's finding that terminating her parental rights is in her children's best interests. See id. § 161.001(b)(2). The Family Code statutory factors[5] and the Holley factors[6] for the best interest of a child are well known. Applying each standard of review and the applicable statutory and common law factors, we examine the evidence pertaining to the best interests of the children.

         C. Witnesses at Trial

         In a one-day bench trial, the trial court heard testimony from Alex Wilson and Jennifer Castillo, Department case workers. Mom had notice of the trial, but she did not appear in person. The trial court also received recommendations from the children's attorney ad litem. The trial court was the "sole judge[] of the credibility of the witnesses and the weight to give their testimony." See City of Keller v. Wilson, 168 S.W.3d 802, 819 (Tex. 2005); cf. In re H.R.M., 209 S.W.3d 105, 108 (Tex. 2006) (per curiam). We summarize the testimony below.

         D. Mom's Plan Compliance

         The top three services that Mom was ordered to complete were a psychological evaluation, a drug assessment, and a domestic violence course. Mom completed the psychological evaluation and the drug assessment, but she did not comply with the respective recommendations and she did not participate in the domestic violence classes. Mom was ordered to submit to a hair follicle drug test, but she did not. Mom did not provide proof of a safe and stable home or proof of income. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 263.307(b)(1), (7), (8), (10), (11), (12); Holley v. Adams, 544 S.W.2d 367, 372 (Tex. 1976) (factors (B), (C), (D), (G), (H)).

         E. Mom's Relationship with the Children

         Mom was authorized visits with the children, but two of the three refused her visits. The third child has special needs and is not able to clearly express herself. Mom was allowed to visit her, but Mom attempted to visit only once. The visit was cancelled because Mom attacked her own mother in the parking lot, and the police were called to intervene. Mom has also physically abused the non-special needs children, and they insist they do not want to be placed with Mom. They want to be adopted by their ...


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