Reporter: New developments in the case against a Colorado man jailed on murder charges in the death of his fiancé. In just a few hours, there will be a temporary custody hearing concerning the one-year old daughter they shared. [The parents are] Patrick Frazee and Kelsey Berreth. Investigators still have not recovered Kelsey’s body. As you know, he’s been charged with her murder.
Reporter: They have not released any information about a positive motive in this case, and we do not know if today’s custody hearing was scheduled before or after Kelsey went missing. Family law attorney, Brad Micklin, joins us via Skype. Brad, I thank you for joining us. First and foremost, we don’t know when this hearing was scheduled. If it was scheduled before her disappearance, does that change things?
Brad Micklin: I think it will impact it a little bit. We can’t lose sight of the fact that there’s a criminal issue behind this, and [the suspect remains] innocent until proven guilty. But ultimately, if he’s the parent, he has a right to a relationship with his child.
Reporter: He has a right to a relationship with her, but while he’s charged, I mean, how does that work in a situation such as this?
Brad Micklin: Well, again, the family law system usually isn’t concerned with guilt or innocence, so whether he did it or not, it’s not going to be significant. It’s really a question of the impact on the child. Every parent has a constitutional right to parent his or her own child, but you have to bounce that against the best interest standard that most states apply to see if that’s truly in the child’s best interest or not.
Reporter: Okay. Can you walk me through what happens during a hearing such as this? And now that Kelsey isn’t present, how will the proceedings go on as normal? (livingproof.co) Will her parents be there?
Brad Micklin: It’s hard to say, because usually, hearings for children and custody issues are going to be closed, so only their parents would be there. Maybe any issue or people the court may want to interview. But the initial hearing’s going to determine where is the child best placed temporarily. It’s more of an emergent standard, not a best interest issue, so they have to find out where they could place the child first.
Reporter: If her parents are wanting to be eligible to take custody of this little girl, how would they do that? Because like you said, it’s closed, it typically just has the parents involved. But since Kelsey, obviously, is not here, how would her parents get involved?
Brad Micklin: Well, her parents and probably any third person that has an interest would be able to petition the court. Because again, the issue is always what’s in the best interest of the child, not who’s got the better right, not whether it’s a natural parent, or a third party. Both have equal standing when it comes to the best interest of a child.
Reporter: If the hearing takes place today, let’s just say hypothetically speaking, Kelsey’s parents are perhaps advocating for the custody of this little girl, would things change? Meaning, could the baby girl be in the custody of the grandparents by the end of today?
Brad Micklin: The baby could be placed with the grandparents. Every custody decision is considered temporary, even if it’s between parents, because custody could always be changed when circumstances change, and it’s for the best interest of the child. So, the decision they make today to place a child doesn’t necessarily mean the child stays there permanently. They’ll have to do an evaluation later to determine what’s ultimately best for a type of permanent placement.
Reporter: All right. Interesting. Well, Brad, thank you for joining us. We’ll see what happens today. Appreciate it.
Brad Micklin: Yeah, thanks for having me.