In re Interest of A.L.R., 21-0658

CourtSupreme Court of Texas
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM.
Citation646 S.W.3d 833
Parties In the INTEREST OF A.L.R., a Child
Docket Number21-0658
Decision Date17 June 2022

646 S.W.3d 833

In the INTEREST OF A.L.R., a Child

No. 21-0658

Supreme Court of Texas.

OPINION DELIVERED: June 17, 2022


Grayson Hurst, for Petitioner.

Charles E. Rice, for Other interested party.

Britt Houston Lindsey, Benjamin L. Dower, Samantha Magee, James B. Hicks, Austin, Alyssa Wolffis, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM

Texas Family Code Section 161.001(b) enumerates the grounds for terminating a parent's rights, which must be coupled with a finding that termination of those rights is in the child's best interest. TEX. FAM. CODE § 161.001(b)(1)(A)-(U), (b)(2). This case involves Subsection (O). Under Subsection (O), a court may terminate a parent's rights based on that parent's failure to comply with a court order that:

specifically established the actions necessary for the parent to obtain the return of the child who has been in the permanent or temporary managing conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services for not less than nine months as a result of the child's removal ....

Id. § 161.001(b)(1)(O). To terminate a parent's rights under Subsection (O), the court's order describing the actions necessary to obtain the return of the child must be "sufficiently specific to warrant termination of parental rights for failure to comply with it." In re N.G. , 577 S.W.3d 230, 238 (Tex. 2019).

In this case, the trial court found that the father: (1) failed to comply with a court-ordered family service plan; and (2) knowingly engaged in criminal conduct, resulting in his incarceration and inability to care for his child for a period of at least two years (Subsection (Q)). See TEX. FAM. CODE § 161.001(b)(1)(O), (Q). The court of appeals affirmed the Subsection (O) finding. ––– S.W.3d ––––, –––– – ––––, 2021 WL 2584470, at *3-*4 (Tex. App.—Eastland June 24, 2021). The court of appeals did not reach whether the evidence supports termination under Subsection (Q). Id.

The father petitioned for review, contending that the trial court's order does not support termination under Subsection (O) because the order adopts tasks to complete phrased in the form of "requests." We agree. Accordingly, without hearing oral argument, TEX. R. APP. P. 59.1, we reverse the court of appeals’ judgment and remand the case to that court to consider the trial court's alternative basis for termination under Subsection (Q).

I

In August 2017, hospital medical providers notified the Department of Family and Protective Services that the parents of a newborn child could not properly care for the child, even with nursing assistance.

In an affidavit seeking the child's removal, a Department investigator recounted interviews with several medical providers and the parents and the investigator's visit to the father's motel room. The parents had been homeless for a significant portion

646 S.W.3d 836

of the pregnancy. The motel room they currently lived in was "filthy," and the parents had no diapers or formula.

When asked about prior hospital visits—during which hospital staff noticed bruises to her face—the child's mother reported that the father had hit her. The father explained that someone had "spiked his beer with ‘crystal meth,’ " causing him to black out and assault the mother. The investigator also noted that the father had been convicted as a minor for sexual assault on a family member. Both parents reported mental health diagnoses and prescriptions for attendant medications.

The child's pediatrician observed the parents and expressed concern that they were not capable of caring for the child. The doctor noted that the mother was nonverbal and worried that she would not recognize the need to feed and change the infant. The father's mother also expressed concern about the child going home with the parents, and she anticipated that "something could happen" if her son became angry.

The trial court granted the Department's request to remove the child on an emergency basis. After a hearing, the trial court named the Department as the child's temporary sole managing conservator, with the mother and father as possessory conservators. The mother eventually voluntarily terminated her parental rights.

In October, the trial court ordered the father "to comply with each requirement set out in the Department's original, or any amended, service plan during the pendency of this suit," thereby incorporating the service plan by reference. The Department's plan warns that, unless the parents could provide the child with "a safe environment," their parental rights may be terminated. The plan sets forth "Service Plan Goals" stating that, among other things, the "[father] will comply with court orders" and "will demonstrate an ability to provide basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and supervision for the child." But the plan's specific "tasks" are worded as requests, each beginning with "[t]he Department requests." These requests state, for example, that "[t]he Department requests" that the father "refrain from involvement in criminal activity" and "requests" that the father "participate in...

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  • In re UPS Ground Freight, Inc., 20-0827
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • June 17, 2022
    ...national testing program's compliance with federal mandates.We thus hold that, even as narrowed by the amended discovery order, the trial 646 S.W.3d 833 court erred in compelling disclosure of confidential drug-test records of nonparty UPS employees who have no alleged involvement in the ac......
1 cases
  • In re UPS Ground Freight, Inc., 20-0827
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • June 17, 2022
    ...national testing program's compliance with federal mandates.We thus hold that, even as narrowed by the amended discovery order, the trial 646 S.W.3d 833 court erred in compelling disclosure of confidential drug-test records of nonparty UPS employees who have no alleged involvement in the ac......

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