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Family Law No. 02-02-262-CV, 5/29/2003. Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS: Jessica C. appeals from the termination of her parental rights in her child, J.M.C. HOLDING: Affirmed. The appellant contends that the trial court lost jurisdiction over the case when it failed to hold a full adversary hearing by the 14th day after Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services took possession of J.M.C. pursuant to the ex parte temporary order and when it failed to extend the temporary order in accordance with Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 680. The appellant further contends that the trial court lost jurisdiction because the temporary order expired sometime between April 26 and May 7 when Rule 680 was not complied with. The appellant asserts that the trial court should have returned J.M.C. to her because TDPRS had no legal basis to keep J.M.C. after the order expired. Alternatively, the appellant contends that Rule 680 and Texas Family Code �263.401(d) required the trial court to dissolve the temporary order and render a final order returning J.M.C. to her when TDPRS did not proceed with the full adversary hearing, even though the appellant never asked the trial court to do so. The appellant contends that the trial court erred in denying her motion for new trial on these grounds. Nothing in �262.201, �263.401, or Rule 680 deprives a trial court of jurisdiction over a termination proceeding simply because a temporary possession order has expired or the trial court does not hold a full adversary hearing. In addition, the appellant did not seek mandamus relief to compel the trial court to hold the full adversary hearing, nor did she timely complain about the trial court’s failure to dismiss the termination proceeding under �263.401. The appellant contends that the trial court’s failure to appoint her an attorney immediately after suit was filed and before the first adversary hearing violated �107.013. The appellant asserts that TDPRS’s failure to attach to the termination petition an affidavit showing that appellant had voluntarily relinquished her parental rights informed the trial court that appellant was contesting the termination proceeding, thereby triggering the trial court’s duty to immediately determine appellant’s indigent status and appoint her counsel. The family code requires the trial court to appoint counsel to represent an indigent parent in a termination proceeding where the parent responds in opposition to the termination. �107.013(a)(1). Construing �107.013(a)(1) according to the ordinary meaning of its terms, the court holds that documents omitted from TDPRS’s petition for termination are not a “respon[se] in opposition to the termination” from an indigent parent. Accordingly, TDPRS’s failure to attach an affidavit of relinquishment to its termination petition did not give rise to a trial court duty to determine appellant’s indigent status or appoint appellant counsel under �107.013(a)(1). The appellant contends that the trial court violated her federal right to due process by failing to determine at the “earliest possible time” whether she was indigent and in need of appointed counsel. In this case, after the appellant was served with process in June 2001, she ignored most of CPS’s attempts to contact her, broke all of her scheduled appointments with CPS, did not attempt to visit J.M.C., and failed to appear at permanency hearings in September 2001 and January 2002, even though she had notice of the hearings. Despite the appellant’s surmise on appeal that she may have made informed, and therefore better, decisions if she had enjoyed the early advice of counsel, virtually all of the appellant’s actions for 11 months after she was served with process are evidence that she was not interested in participating in the termination proceeding. When she finally did appear at a hearing in May 2002, the trial court immediately appointed her counsel and postponed the trial on termination for two months. Under these circumstances, the court holds that the trial court did not violate the appellant’s due process rights by failing to determine her indigent status and appoint her counsel before her initial appearance at the May 16, 2002 permanency hearing. The appellant contends that the Family Code provisions governing the appointment of counsel for parents and children in termination proceedings, as applied to her, violate her federal right to equal protection because all children are immediately entitled to appointed counsel, and therefore greater protection, than parents, who are only entitled to appointed counsel under certain circumstances. Because minor children and parents are not similarly situated, appellant’s equal protection claim based on the difference between ��107.012 and 107.013(a)(1) fails. OPINION: Per curiam; Cayce, C.J.; Day and Walker, JJ.

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