IN THE INTEREST OF K.D. AND V.P.D., CHILDREN
Appeal from the 1st Multicounty Court at Law Nolan County,
Texas Trial Court Cause No. CC-7667
consists of: Bailey, C.J., Stretcher, J., and Wright, S.C.J.
WRIGHT, SENIOR CHIEF JUSTICE.
appeal stems from the trial court's order by which it
terminated the parental rights of the mothers of K.D. and
V.P.D. and the father of both children. Only the father
appealed. In two issues, Appellant challenges the legal and
factual sufficiency of the evidence with respect to the
children's best interest and asserts that the trial court
abused its discretion when it did not conduct a hearing on
Appellant's motion for new trial. We affirm.
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) of the Texas
Family Code and that termination is in the best interest of
the child. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(b) (West Supp.
2018). Evidence is clear and convincing if it "will
produce in the mind of the trier of fact a firm belief or
conviction as to the truth of the allegation sought to be
established." Id. § 101.007 (West 2019).
case, the trial court found that Appellant had committed two
of the acts listed in Section 161.001(b)(1)-those found in
subsections (D) and (E). Specifically, the trial court found
that Appellant (1) knowingly placed or knowingly allowed the
children to remain in conditions or surroundings that
endangered the children's physical or emotional
well-being, see id. § 161.001(b)(1)(D); and (2)
engaged in conduct or knowingly placed the children with
persons who engaged in conduct that endangered the
children's physical or emotional well-being, see
id. § 161.001(b)(1)(E). The trial court also found,
pursuant to Section 161.001(b)(2), that termination of
Appellant's parental rights was in the best interest of
the children. See id. § 161.001(b)(2).
first issue, Appellant challenges the legal and factual
sufficiency of the evidence to support the trial court's
best interest finding; he does not challenge the sufficiency
of the evidence to support the findings under subsections (D)
and (E). 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 the finding was true. In re
J.P.B., 180 S.W.3d 570, 573 (Tex. 2005) (per curiam)
(citing In re J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d 256, 266 (Tex.
2002)); In re M.G., No. 11-18-00351-CV, 2019 WL
2426775, at *1 (Tex. App.-Eastland June 11, 2019, no pet.).
To determine whether 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); M.G., 2019 WL 2426775, at *1. 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.
determination of the best interest of a child does not
require proof of any unique set of factors. In re
C.J.O., 325 S.W.3d 261, 266 (Tex. App.-Eastland 2010,
pet. denied). However, courts are guided by the
non-exhaustive Holley factors to shape their
analysis. Holley v. Adams, 544 S.W.2d 367, 371-72
(Tex. 1976). These factors 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. Section 263.307(b) of the Family Code also
"lists thirteen similar factors for determining the
parents' willingness and ability to provide a safe
environment." In re J.I.T.P., 99 S.W.3d 841,
846 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2003, no pet.) (citing
Fam. § 263.307(b)). Evidence that proves one or more
statutory grounds for termination may also constitute
evidence that termination is in the child's best
interest. In re E.C.R., 402 S.W.3d 239, 249 (Tex.
2013); C.J.O., 325 S.W.3d at 266.
is the father of K.D. and V.P.D. The children have different
mothers. Because she lacked financial stability, V.P.D.'s
mother left V.P.D. with Appellant. After K.D. was physically
abused by her mother, the Department of Family and Protective
Services removed K.D. from her mother's care and placed
her with Appellant.
April 2018, Appellant began an online conversation with a
person he believed to be a fourteen-year-old girl, but was
actually City of Sweetwater Police Officer Cory Stroman.
Appellant stated in the conversation that he was smoking
marihuana and that some people get "turned on" from
using marihuana. Appellant made sexual overtures in the
conversation that culminated in an agreement to meet at
approximately 11:30 p.m. Appellant suggested that the
fourteen-year-old girl shave and masturbate prior to the
meeting and not wear a bra.
stopped briefly at the meeting site, but drove away when
Officer Stroman activated the lights on his police car.
Appellant was arrested approximately two blocks from the
meeting site. Appellant indicated to Officer Stroman that
Appellant was there "to save the child" and that
"he felt the child was somehow in distress."
Stroman performed an inventory search of Appellant's car
and found two car seats. Only at that point did Appellant
tell Officer Stroman that K.D., who was five years old, and
V.P.D., who was three years old, were home alone. It was
subsequently determined that the children had been left alone
on previous occasions when Appellant took his fiancée,
who is now his wife, to work.
Department removed the children from Appellant's home and
placed them with V.P.D.'s maternal grandparents, who were
also K.D.'s step-grandparents. The Department filed a
Petition for Protection of a Child, for Conservatorship, and
for Termination in Suit Affecting the Parent-Child
Relationship. The Department's primary goal in the case
was family reunification, but it had a concurrent goal of
trial court ordered Appellant to participate in certain
services, including a psychological evaluation, counseling,
parenting classes, and a drug and alcohol dependency
assessment. Appellant completed all the ordered services. He
also attended every scheduled visitation with the children
and called the children almost every day. However, during