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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In 2003, the Department of Family and Protective Services filed a Petition for Protection of a Child, Conservatorship, and for Termination in Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship based on allegations that J.A.J. had been abused. In �13 of the form complaint, the department requested that it be appointed J.A.J.’s sole managing conservator “[p]ursuant to [Texas Family Code] �� 153.005 and 263.404.” Citing Texas Family Code �151.131, the department contended that appointment of a parent would not be in J.A.J.’s best interest, because it “would significantly impair the [child's] physical health or emotional development.” The department requested termination of Angeline Jackson’s and an unknown father’s parental rights. After a bench trial, the trial court found by clear and convincing evidence that Jackson had knowingly placed or allowed J.A.J. to remain in conditions that endangered his well-being and engaged in conduct or knowingly placed the child with persons who engaged in conduct that endangered him. It also found by clear and convincing evidence that termination of the parent-child relationship was in J.A.J.’s best interest. The court further found that appointment of a parent as J.A.J.’s managing conservator would not be in his best interest “because the appointment would significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional development; and (2) it would not be in the best interest of the child to appoint a relative of the child or another person as managing conservator.” The court, determining that it would be in the child’s best interest, appointed the department as J.A.J.’s sole managing conservator. Jackson appealed the judgment terminating her parental rights, contending that legally and factually insufficient evidence supported termination under �161.001(1). The 14th Court of Appeals agreed and reversed the trial court’s judgment terminating Jackson’s parental rights. Although Jackson did not separately challenge the trial court’s findings supporting designation of the department as J.A.J.’s conservator, the 14th Court also reversed that portion of the trial court’s decree. On appeal to the Texas Supreme Court, the department challenged only the portion of the 14th Court’s judgment that reversed its appointment as J.A.J.’s managing conservator. HOLDING:The court reversed the portion of the 14th Court of Appeals’ judgment that reversed appointment of the department as J.A.J.’s sole managing conservator. The court set out to decide “the effect of a termination judgment’s reversal on an unchallenged conservatorship appointment when the trial court finds that appointing a parent as conservator would significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional development, and that appointment of the Department is in the child’s best interest, an issue on which our courts of appeals are divided.” The Texas Family Code, the court stated, outlines the general standards for determining conservatorship. Section 153.002 provides that the primary consideration in determining issues of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child is always the child’s best interest. The code creates a rebuttable presumption that a parent will be named a child’s managing conservator, unless the court finds that such appointment would not be in the child’s best interest “because the appointment would significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional development” or finds that there is a history of family violence involving the parents. Section 263.404 of the Family Code allows the court to render a final order appointing the department as the child’s conservator without terminating parental rights if the court finds that: a parent’s appointment would not be in the child’s best interest, because the appointment would significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional development; and appointment of a relative of the child or another person would not be in the child’s best interest. The court agreed that �263.404 does not apply when the trial court’s order terminates parental rights, but disagreed that the department “was appointed in this case solely as a consequence of the termination proceedings.” In this case, the court found that the department sought appointment as J.A.J.’s conservator on alternate grounds, presumably because it could not know for certain what the trial court’s final order would be. The department also requested conservatorship pursuant to ��153.005 and 151.131. The trial court terminated Jackson’s parental rights with respect to J.A.J. and found that appointment of a parent as J.A.J.’s managing conservator would not be in his best interest, because it would significantly impair his physical health or emotional development. It also found that appointment of the department as managing conservator was in J.A.J.’s best interest. The court found that the trial court’s findings satisfied the fundamental requirement that the court consider the best interest of the child and also satisfied the more specific findings necessary to justify the department’s appointment under �153.131. Thus, the court concluded that the 14th Court’s reversal of a parental termination judgment did not affect the trial court’s finding that appointing the Department of Family and Protective Services as conservator was in J.A.J.’s best interests. OPINION:O’Neill, J., delivered the opinion of the court.

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