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In re M.M.M.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas

September 30, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF M.M.M. AND C.N.M., CHILDREN

          On Appeal from the 301st Judicial District Court Dallas County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. DF-17-09018

          Before Justices Myers, Molberg, and Carlyle

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          KEN MOLBERG JUSTICE

         B.M., who is incarcerated and appears here pro se, appeals the trial court's March 7, 2019 post-answer default judgment terminating his parental rights to M.M.M. and C.N.M., the minor children. In four issues, [1] B.M. asks us to reverse and remand, arguing that he was denied notice, a fair trial, and due process. We overrule his four issues and affirm the trial court's judgment.

         BACKGROUND

         B.M. is the biological father of M.M.M. and C.N.M. M.Y. is the children's mother.

         B.M. appeals the trial court's March 7, 2019 order of termination, in which the court found by clear and convincing evidence that the termination of the parent–child relationship between

          B.M. and the minor children was in the children's best interests and that B.M. had done the following:

• engaged in conduct or knowingly placed the children with persons who engaged in conduct that endangers the physical or emotional well-being of the children;
• failed to support the children in accordance with his ability during a period of one year ending within six months of the date of the filing of the petition;
• knowingly engaged in criminal conduct that has resulted in his conviction of an offense and confinement or imprisonment and inability to care for the children for not less than two years from the date the petition was filed; and
• knowingly placed or knowingly allowed the children to remain in conditions or surroundings that endanger the physical or emotional well-being of the children.

See Tex. Family Code Ann. § 161.001(b).

         During the trial, M.Y. testified that in April 2017, during an argument with B.M. at their home, B.M. pointed a gun to his head, walked towards her and M.M.M., and told M.Y. that she needed to take the kids somewhere so they would not see what was going to happen. M.Y. testified that her mother took the kids to another area in the home while M.Y. contacted law enforcement, who negotiated the gun away from B.M. and took him to a hospital. Soon thereafter, M.Y. filed her original petition, seeking temporary orders, conservatorship of the children, and support for the children. On May 31, 2017, the trial court entered a protective order.

         On June 20, 2017, after M.Y. dropped off the children at daycare, B.M. shot at M.Y. in her vehicle in the daycare parking lot. M.Y. escaped without injury but drove the wrong way in traffic in order to get away. B.M. was arrested and ultimately pleaded guilty to various state and federal criminal charges in connection with that event. B.M. has been incarcerated since 2017.

         M.Y. filed an original petition to terminate B.M.'s parental rights to M.M.M. and C.N.M in April 2018. The trial court appointed an amicus attorney for the children under Texas Family Code section 107.021(a)(1), and B.M. answered. He was initially represented by counsel, but his counsel withdrew in ...


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