Oh What A Web They Weave When They First Practice To Deceive

If you think you have problems, you should read the decision in Ketchmark v Haynan, which was issued on September 15, 2015 by the Michigan Court of Appeals (Docket No. 321201). This case involves Judge Archie Hayman, who was the chief judge of the 7th Circuit Court in Genesee County (Flint), and Denise Ketchmark, who is an attorney in Flint, MI. The background of this case is set forth in the decision, and I have no personal knowledge of the facts other than what is reported there. The decision recites the following background.

Judge Hayman and Ms. Ketchmark had an affair that spanned 20 years. While Ms. Ketchmark fancied that she was Judge Hayman’s exclusive love interest, Judge Hayman married another woman in 2001, which was his second marriage. This second marriage lasted less than one year.

Over the 20 year relationship between Judge Hayman and Ms. Ketchmark, Ms. Ketchmark became pregnant four times. She miscarried twice and had two children: Damion and Rakia. Apparently, Rakia was conceived through artificial insemination.

In 2011, Judge Hayman added both children to his health insurance; however, it appears that he was not listed as the children’s father on their birth certificates. In 2012, Ms. Ketchmark pressured Judge Hayman to “step up to the plate,” and after some pressure, the parties signed affidavits of parentage. Under Michigan law, Judge Hayman became the “legal father” of both children by signing those affidavits.

As if 2012 were not a memorable enough year for these two parties, in 2012 Judge Hayman married Ernestine Armstrong. From the decision, it appears that Judge Hayman was already living with Ms. Armstrong and their mutual child, Kyle Hayman (who was 7 years old then). Ms. Ketchmark apparently did not know that Ms. Armstrong was yet another paramour and that Kyle was Judge Hayman’s son. Instead, she thought that Ms. Armstrong and Kyle were just “relatives” of Judge Hayman. When the truth became known, Ms. Ketchmark sent Judge Hayman (who was still involved with her sexually) a 52 page letter (the contents of which one can only imagine). Ms. Ketchmark remained involved with Judge Hayman until one week before his wedding in August 2012. Then Ms. Ketchmark filed a complaint under the Paternity Act and the Acknowledgement of Parentage Act (seeking an order of filiation, sole legal and physical custody, and child support).

DNA testing was done, and the testing proved that Judge Hayman was Damion’s biological father but not Rakia’s. The court entered an order of filiation regarding Damion and ordered child support as to him—but Judge Hayman was not granted parenting time.

The problem at that point was that even though DNA testing confirmed that Judge Hayman was not Rakia’s biological father, Judge Hayman had signed an affidavit of parentage with regard to Rakia. To deal with this, Judge Hayman requested a revocation of the affidavit of parentage. Under the Revocation of Paternity Act, a court must consider a child’s best interests, MCLA 722.1443(4), before granting this relief. After reviewing the best interest factors and finding that Judge Hayman had no parent/child relationship to Rakia, the court granted his request to revoke the affidavit with regard to her.

The court then considered the best interests factors set forth at MCLA 722.23 with regard to custody of Damion and parenting time with him. On the issue of “domestic violence,” the Court of Appeals noted that “Damion had witnessed [Ms. Ketchmark] throw a box that hit Kyle and [Ms. Ketchmark] had otherwise sent inappropriate things to [Judge Hayman’s] wife such as the 52-page letter.” In the end, the court awarded Ms. Ketchmark sole legal and physical custody together with $1,142/month in child support. Judge Hayman was awarded 140 days/year of parenting time. Both parties then appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed the revocation of paternity regarding Rakia and affirmed the establishment of paternity as to Damion. Because the trial court did not consider whether the 140 overnights awarded to Judge Hayman changed Damion’s established custodial environment, that issue was remanded as were some issues concerning Judge Hayman’s obligation to pay for the costs of Damion’s confinement and delivery.

There was an interesting discussion in this case regarding when DNA testing may be ordered under the Paternity Act as contrasted DNA testing under the Revocation of Paternity Act (along with other differences between the Acts). Despite scholarly interest in those issues—the underlying “story” of unrequited love and rejection in this case is almost epic. In the end, it is clear that many people in the case were hurt: Judge Hayman; Ernestine Armstrong (Judge Hayman’s third wife); Denise Ketchmark; Rafia; Damion; Kyle Hayman (Judge Hayman’s “other” son); and friends and colleagues of both parties—along with the entire Michigan bench and bar.

Categories: Blog, Family Law