Court of Appeals of Texas, Sixth District, Texarkana
Submitted: September 26, 2019
Appeal from the 354th District Court Hunt County, Texas Trial
Court No. 85846
Morriss, C.J., Burgess and Stevens, JJ.
E. STEVENS JUSTICE
petition of the Texas Department of Family and Protective
Services (the Department), the trial court terminated
Mother's parental rights to her daughter, Abigail,
 after finding that: (1) Mother failed
to comply with the provisions of a court order that
specifically established the actions necessary for her to
obtain the return of Abigail, who had been in the permanent
or temporary managing conservatorship of the Department for
not less than nine months as a result of her removal under
Chapter 262 of the Texas Family Code for abuse or neglect and
(2) termination of her parental rights was in the child's
best interests. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §
161.001(b)(1)(O), (2) (Supp. 2018).
appeal, Mother challenges the legal and factual sufficiency
of the evidence supporting both findings. We affirm the trial
court's judgment because we conclude that it is supported
by legally and factually sufficient evidence.
Standard of Review
natural right existing between parents and their children is
of constitutional dimensions." Holick v. Smith,
685 S.W.2d 18, 20 (Tex. 1985). Indeed, parents have a
fundamental right to make decisions concerning "the
care, custody, and control of their children."
Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57, 65 (2000).
"Because the termination of parental rights implicates
fundamental interests, a higher standard of proof-clear and
convincing evidence-is required at trial." In re
A.B., 437 S.W.3d 498, 502 (Tex. 2014). This Court is
therefore required to "engage in an exacting review of
the entire record to determine if the evidence is . . .
sufficient to support the termination of parental
rights." Id. at 500. "[I]nvoluntary
termination statutes are strictly construed in favor of the
parent." In re S.K.A., 236 S.W.3d 875, 900
(Tex.App.-Texarkana 2007, pet. denied) (quoting
Holick, 685 S.W.2d at 20).
terminate parental rights, the trial court must find, by
clear and convincing evidence, that the parent has engaged in
at least one statutory ground for termination and that
termination is in the child's best interest. Tex. Fam.
Code Ann. § 161.001 (Supp.); In re E. N.C. ,
384 S.W.3d 796, 798 (Tex. 2012). "Clear and convincing
evidence" is that "degree of 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." Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 101.007;
see In re J.O.A., 283 S.W.3d 336, 344 (Tex. 2009).
This standard of proof necessarily affects our review of the
legal sufficiency review, we consider all the evidence in the
light most favorable to the findings to determine whether the
fact-finder reasonably could have formed a firm belief or
conviction that the grounds for termination were proven.
In re J.P.B., 180 S.W.3d 570, 573 (Tex. 2005) (per
curiam); In re J.L.B., 349 S.W.3d 836, 846
(Tex.App.-Texarkana 2011, no pet.). We assume the trial
court, acting as fact-finder, resolved disputed facts in
favor of the finding, if a reasonable fact-finder could do
so, and disregarded evidence that the fact-finder could have
reasonably disbelieved or the credibility of which reasonably
could be doubted. J.P.B., 180 S.W.3d at 573.
review of factual sufficiency, we give due consideration to
evidence the trial court could have reasonably found to be
clear and convincing. In re H.R.M., 209 S.W.3d 105,
109 (Tex. 2006) (per curiam). We consider only that evidence
that the fact-finder reasonably could have found to be clear
and convincing and determine "whether the evidence is
such that a fact[-]finder could reasonably form a firm belief
or conviction about the truth of the . . . allegations."
Id. (quoting In re C.H., 89 S.W.3d 17, 25
(Tex. 2002)); In re J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d 256, 264, 266
(Tex. 2002). "If, in light of the entire record, the
disputed evidence that a reasonable fact[-]finder could not
have credited in favor of the finding is so significant that
a fact[-]finder could not reasonably have formed a firm
belief or conviction, then the evidence is factually
insufficient." J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d at 266.
"[I]n making this determination, " we must
undertake "an exacting review of the entire record with
a healthy regard for the constitutional interests at
stake." A.B., 437 S.W.3d at 503 (quoting
C.H., 89 S.W.3d at 26).
the profound constitutional interests at stake in a
proceeding to terminate parental rights, "the rights of
natural parents are not absolute; protection of the child is
paramount." In re A.V., 113 S.W.3d 355, 361
(Tex. 2003) (quoting In re J.W.T., 872 S.W.2d 189,
195 (Tex. 1994)); see In re M.S., 115 S.W.3d 534,
547 (Tex. 2003). "A child's emotional and physical
interests must not be sacrificed merely to preserve parental
rights." In re C.A.J., 459 S.W.3d 175, 179
(Tex.App.-Texarkana 2015, no pet.) (citing C.H., 89
S.W.3d at 26).
The Evidence at Trial
uncontested at trial that Mother tested positive for
methamphetamine at the time of Abigail's removal. After
an adversarial hearing, the trial court found that Mother had
endangered Abigail's health or safety and entered a
temporary order introduced by the Department at trial. As set
out by the order, Mother was required to complete a drug and
alcohol dependency assessment, psychiatric and psychological
evaluations, an individual drug treatment program, individual
counseling, and parenting classes. The trial court also
ordered Mother to submit to random drug testing, remain
drug-free, maintain steady income and stable housing, abstain
from criminal activity, and provide proof of attendance at
Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholic's Anonymous, or Celebrate
Recovery. The order also required Mother to comply with ...