Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In this accelerated appeal, appellant, Kovey Amanette Cervantes-Peterson a/k/a Kovey Peterson Cervantes a/k/a Kovey Turner Cervantes (Cervantes), challenges the trial court’s decree, entered after a bench trial, terminating her parental rights to her minor child, J.M. HOLDING:Affirmed. DFPS asks the 1st Court to affirm the trial court’s termination of Cervantes’s parental rights on the ground that, in violation of �161.001(1)(D), Cervantes knowingly placed or knowingly allowed J.M. to remain in conditions or surroundings which endangered the physical or emotional well-being of J.M., even though the trial court did not make any such express finding in its decree. Consistent with Vasquez v. Texas Department of Protective & Regulatory Services, 190 S.W.3d 189 (Tex. App. – Houston [1st Dist.] 2005, pet. denied), the court rejects DFPS’s argument that the trial court’s decree may be affirmed on the basis of a subsection of �161.001, which, although pleaded by DFPS in its original petition, was not expressly found to have been violated in the decree. The trial court’s findings in the termination order in this case, which are expressly required by �161.206 of the Family Code, and which track the language of �161.001(1)(E) of the Family Code, are not findings of fact prohibited by Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 299a. The findings simply articulate the trial court’s grounds for terminating parental rights. The court overrules the holding in Thompson v. Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, 176 S.W.3d 121 (Tex. App. – Houston [1st Dist.] 2004, pet. denied) that such findings made in a judgment, which are required by statute, cannot form the basis of an appeal, and we hold, following Vazquez, that we review the sufficiency of the evidence presented under the specific statutory grounds found by the trial court in its termination order. Cervantes challenges the factual and legal sufficiency of the evidence. The fact that Cervantes ingested cocaine while pregnant with J.M. and the effect of Cervantes’s use of narcotics on J.M. are not disputed. From this evidence, a fact finder could reasonably have formed a firm conviction or belief that Cervantes engaged in conduct which endangered the physical and emotional well-being of J.M. The fact that DFPS did not offer medical evidence to prove that Cervantes had cocaine in her system at the time she gave birth to J.M., or that J.M. had been exposed to cocaine before his birth, does not render the evidence supporting a finding that Cervantes engaged in conduct which endangered the physical or emotional well-being of J.M. factually insufficient. The critical factor in determining whether the termination of Cervantes’s parental rights was in J.M.’s best interest is the fact that Cervantes used narcotics during her pregnancy and actually exposed J.M. to physical danger, and her continued use of narcotics would likely expose him to physical and emotional danger in the future. From these facts alone, a fact finder could have formed a firm conviction or belief that termination of Cervantes’s parental rights was in J.M’s best interest. OPINION:Terry Jennings, J.; en banc, consisting of Radack, C.J., Taft, Nuchia, Jennings, Keyes, Alcala, Hanks, Higley and Bland, J.J.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 1 article* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.