Deciding a Minor's Best Interests In a Parental Notification Proceeding

In In re Jane Doe S.W.3d (Tex. 2000), the Court established a non-exhaustive list of four factors for courts to consider in determining a minor's best interests in a parental notification proceeding: (1) the minor's emotional or physical needs; (2) the possibility of emotional or physical danger to the minor; (3) the stability of the minor's home and whether notification would cause serious and lasting harm to the family structure; (4) the relationship between the parent and the minor and the effect of notification on that relationship. As a matter of law, the minor's emotional well-being, the family structure, and the parent-child relationship would be adversely affected if her parents withdrew support and severed all contact with her. If the minor's uncontroverted testimony to this effect were clear, positive, and direct, and not impeached or discredited by other circumstances, the trial court would have to accept it as fact. And, in light of such facts, the trial court would abuse its discretion if it then denied the minor's application. But because trial courts can view a witness's demeanor, they are given great latitude in believing or disbelieving a witness's testimony, particularly when the witness is interested in the outcome. Acting as factfinder, a trial judge can, therefore, reject the uncontroverted testimony of an interested witness unless it is readily controvertible, it is clear, positive, direct, and there are no circumstances tending to discredit or impeach it.