law-termination of parental rights | statement of points for appeal from order terminating parent-
child relationship | 15-day deadline to file statement of points to preserve error for appellate review
| constitutionality of Texas Family Code provisions governing appeals in termination-of-parental-
rights cases undecided (petition granted and pending) | family law decisions |

TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS - GENERAL PRINCIPLES

In order to terminate parental rights under section 161.001 of the Family Code, the petitioner must
establish that the parent engaged in conduct enumerated in one or more of the subsections of
section 161.001(1) and must also show that termination of the parent-child relationship is in the
best interest of the child.  TEX. FAM. CODE ANN. § 161.001; Richardson v. Green, 677 S.W.2d
497, 499 (Tex. 1984).  The petitioner must prove both prongs and may not rely solely on a
determination that termination is in the best interest of the child.  TEX. FAM. CODE ANN. §
161.001; Tex. Dep't of Human Servs. v. Boyd, 727 S.W.2d 531, 533 (Tex. 1987).  “Only one
predicate finding under section 161.001(1) is necessary to support a judgment of termination when
there is also a finding that termination is in the child’s best interest.”  In re A .V., 113 S.W.3d 355,
362 (Tex. 2003).

It is well-established that parental rights are of constitutional dimension and are “far more precious
than property rights.”  Holick v. Smith, 685 S.W.2d 18, 20 (Tex. 1985) (quoting Stanley v. Illinois,
405 U.S. 645, 651, 92 S. Ct. 1208, 1212 (1976)).  Because of the great importance of parental
rights, grounds for termination must be supported by clear and convincing evidence rather than a
mere preponderance.  TEX. FAM. CODE ANN. § 161.001; In re C.H., 89 S.W.3d 17, 23 (Tex.
2002).  Clear and convincing evidence refers to a degree of proof that will produce in the mind of
the factfinder a firm belief or conviction as to the truth of the allegations sought to be proved.  In re
C.H., 89 S.W.3d at 25.  This intermediate standard falls between the preponderance standard of
ordinary civil proceedings and the reasonable doubt standard of criminal proceedings.  State v.
Addington, 588 S.W.2d 569, 570 (Tex. 1979).  While the proof must be more than merely the
greater weight of the credible evidence, there is no requirement that the evidence be unequivocal
or undisputed.  Id.  Termination proceedings should be strictly scrutinized, and involuntary
termination statutes are strictly construed in favor of the parent.  Holick, 685 S.W.2d at 20–21.

STANDARD OF REVIEW IN APPEAL FROM TERMINATION ORDER

When reviewing the legal sufficiency of the evidence in a case involving termination of parental
rights, we determine whether the evidence is such that a factfinder could reasonably form a belief
or conviction that there existed grounds for termination under § 161.001(1) and that termination
was in the best interest of the children.  See TEX. FAM. CODE ANN. § 161.001(1), (2); In re J .F.C.,
96 S.W.3d 256, 266 (Tex. 2002).  In doing so, we examine all evidence in the light most favorable
to the finding, assuming that the “factfinder resolved disputed facts in favor of its finding if a
reasonable factfinder could do so.”  In re J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d at 266.  We must also disregard all
evidence that the factfinder could have reasonably disbelieved or found to be incredible.  Id.  
However, we must not disregard all of the evidence that does not support the finding, as doing so
could “skew the analysis of whether there is clear and convincing evidence.”  Id.
When conducting a factual sufficiency review of the evidence in a termination of parental rights
case, we examine the entire record to determine whether “the disputed evidence that a reasonable
factfinder could not have credited in favor of the finding is so significant that a factfinder could not
reasonably have formed a firm belief or conviction,” that the two prongs of section 161.001 were
met.  See TEX. FAM. CODE ANN. § 161.001; In re J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d at 266.  If the evidence that
could not be credited in favor of the finding is so great that it would prevent a reasonable factfinder
from forming a firm belief or conviction that either termination was not in the best interest of the
child, or none of the grounds under section 161 .001(1) was proven, the evidence will be factually
insufficient and the termination will be reversed.  See TEX. FAM. CODE ANN. § 161.001; In re J.F.
C., 96 S.W.3d at 266.

TEXAS SUPREME COURT OPINIONS
IN TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS APPEALS

08‑0663          
IN THE INTEREST OF J.M., L.M. AND K.M., CHILDREN; from Brazos County; 10th district
(
10‑08‑00108‑CV, ___ SW3d ___, 06‑11‑08)(appeal of judgment terminating parental rights)

08‑0663          
IN THE INTEREST OF J.M., L.M. AND K.M., CHILDREN; from Brazos County; 10th district
(
10‑08‑00108‑CV, ___ SW3d ___, 06‑11‑08)(judgment terminated the parental rights)

In Interest of MN, a Child, No. 07-0698 (Tex. Aug. 29, 2008)(
Johnson)
(
termination of parental rights, appellate procedure) (trial court's grant of extension of time to file
statement of points for appeal from order terminating parent's rights was proper)
IN THE INTEREST OF M.N., A CHILD; from Taylor County; 11th district
(11-06-00228-CV, 230 SW3d 248, 05-10-07)
Pursuant to Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 59.1, after granting the petition for review and
without hearing oral argument, the Court reverses the court of appeals' judgment and remands the
case to that court.
Justice Johnson delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Chief Justice Jefferson, Justice Hecht,
Justice O'Neill, Justice Wainwright, Justice Brister, Justice Medina, and Justice Green joined.  
Justice Willett delivered a dissenting opinion (would address constitutional issue avoided by
majority)

In Interest of GB, No. 08-0380 (Tex. Aug. 29, 2008)(per curiam)(opinion on denial of petition)
(
termination of parental rights, ineffective assistance of counsel claim, failure to file statement of
points)
IN THE INTEREST OF G.B., P.B., N.B., AND V.R., CHILDREN; from Washington County; 1st district
(01-07-00699-CV, ___ SW3d ___, 04-03-08)   
Per Curiam OpinionIn denying the petition, we neither approve nor disapprove the holding of the
court of appeals regarding whether Texas Family Code section 263.405(i) prohibits an appellate
court from considering an ineffective assistance of counsel claim that was raised for the first time
on appeal.

In Interest of SKA, MA, and SA, No. 07-1045 (Tex. July 25, 2008)(per curiam denial)
(constitutionality of Texas Family Code section 263.4059(i) not decided)  
IN THE INTEREST OF S.K.A., M.A. AND S.A., CHILDREN; from Gregg County; 6th district
(06-07-00003-CV, 236 SW3d 875, 10-17-07)
2 petitions          
Per Curiam Opinion

In Interest of KW and MA, No. 08-0254 (Tex. July 25, 2008)(per curiam)
IN THE INTEREST OF K.W. & M.A., CHILDREN; from Tarrant County; 2nd district
(
02-06-00461-CV, ___ SW3d ___, 02-28-08)         
Per Curiam Opinion

In Interest of DW, TW, and SG, No. 08-0258 (Tex. July 25, 2008)(per curiam)         
IN THE INTEREST OF D.W., T.W. AND S.G., CHILDREN; from Tarrant County; 2nd district
(02-06-00191-CV, 249 SW3d 625, 02-19-08)          
Per Curiam Opinion

In Interest of JJ, No. 08-0299 (Tex. July 25, 2008)(per curiam)         
IN THE INTEREST OF J.J., A CHILD; from Tarrant County; 2nd district
(02-06-00333-CV, ___ SW3d ___, 03-06-08)
2 petitions          
Per Curiam Opinion

In Interest of DF, No. 08-0378 (Tex. 25, 2008)(per curiam)         
IN THE INTEREST OF D.F., A CHILD; from Tarrant County; 2nd district
(02-07-00056-CV, ___ SW3d ___, 03-27-08)          
Per Curiam Opinion


SOME TERMINATION CASES IN WHICH TEX. SUP. CT.
PETITIONS DENIED REVIEW WITHOUT OPINION

08-0583  
IN THE INTEREST OF J.S., M.N.S.C., AND T.S., CHILDREN; from Tarrant County; 2nd district
(02-07-00279-CV, ___ SW3d ___, 06-05-08, pet. denied  Oct 2008, pet. denied Oct 2008)
(termination affirmed, statement of points)

08-0745          
IN THE INTEREST OF K.M. AND J.O. MINOR CHILDREN; from Bexar County; 4th district
(
04‑08‑00037‑CV, ___ SW3d ___, 07‑30‑08, pet. denied Oct 2008)(accelerated appeal
concerning the trial court’s termination of Kerry M.’s parental rights to her children,
appellate points
were determined to be frivolous)
as redrafted

08-0478          
TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF FAMILY AND PROTECTIVE SERVICES v. ALEXANDER VALLEJO; from
Travis County; 3rd district (03-07-00003-CV, ___ SW3d ___, 04-18-08, pet denied Aug 2008)
(termination, frivolous appeal) petition for review, being treated as a petition for writ of mandamus,
denied

07-0728  
IN THE INTEREST OF T.R.F., A CHILD; from Robertson County; 10th district
(10-07-00200-CV, 230 SW3d 263, 06-27-07)(termination of parental rights)
motion for expedited consideration dismissed as moot
motion to shorten rehearing deadline granted

08-0088  
IN THE INTEREST OF L.E.W., A CHILD; from Tarrant County; 2nd district
(
02-07-00162-CV, ___ S.W.3d ___, 12-13-07, pet. denied May 2008)(termination affirmed,
physical abuse, injury)

07-0882  
IN THE INTEREST OF F.C.G., A CHILD; from Stephens County; 11th district
(11-07-00068-CV, ___ SW3d ___, 09-27-07) (termination of parental rights)

08-0206  
IN THE INTEREST OF D.L.G., A CHILD; from Rockwall County; 5th district
(05-07-00787-CV, ___ SW3d ___, 12-17-07)

08-0332  
ULYSSES SINAI LOPEZ v. MAX KUSHNER AND SARA KATHRYN KUSHNER; from Tom Green
County; 3rd district (03-06-00779-CV, ___ SW3d ___, 02-13-08)(termination of parental rights
based on conviction)

07-0973          
IN THE INTEREST OF J.F., J.J. AND J.J., CHILDREN; from Tarrant County; 2nd district
(
02-07-00007-CV, ___ SW3d ___, 10-11-07, pet. denied Jan 2008)
(termination of parental rights, death penalty sanctions)