2. Monday 12 November. Graham Coy. Family law solicitor representing Byron
Monday 12 November. 2018
My beautiful Byron,
I am still working on providing a context for these letters for other readers and I am thinking, you are not yet reading these letters ‘live’ so forgive me for writing in a way that is not targeted specifically for your 9 year old interest level. I will get there eventually. Meanwhile, this is written more about you than to you. But knowing one day, if not now, you will have these letters to read.
After the fathers day mafia hit, (fathers day 2013 was on 16 June) once I arrived at the decision to write ‘letters to Byron‘ every week I approached the process in a manner with which I am accustomed and familiar. That is to say, analyzing the moving parts and identifying the best single option before polishing up each part and reassembling the production into the best it could be. A bit like music production which I have done for thirty years.
Letter for Byron began as cards. With an original art work on the front and a hand written message on the inside. The first problem was, I had little or no skill as a graphic artist.
Luckily for me my friend Ann is an art educator of enormous caliber and enthusiastically guided my approach. I visited the local art supplies store with Ann and tooled up. I bought carefully considered paper, best suited to folding as a card presentation. I bought a variety of colored pencils of various thickness and with a wide range of color options. Being realistically humble about my skills, I decided my best case as the author of the Letters to Byron was to develop skills from scratch in pencil art, to draw a cover picture, folding over a piece of 120 GSM art paper, to form a card. To fit inside accompanying envelopes of colorful qualitative character. My art would be limited to three colors each time.
Once the cover drawing was complete, I would fold the paper in half to form a four side card, my drawing on the front and my handwritten message on the inside two pages. The back page I would reserve for a spontaneous emoji.
I spent hours receiving Ann’s art advice, putting in place basic skills with pencil drawing. And then hours practicing. Sitting at my desk in bright light, with no distractions, while I set my mind to being a good student. I learned quickly. I think by the time I was ready to send the first letter, I had a whole thing going on. Working with colored pencil. using no more than three colors, avoiding primary color choices. I don’t know much about art, but I do know the most important thing about valuing art. I know what I like. If I like it its good. By the time I as ready to send the first ‘letter to Byron’, I felt quietly confident I was the best artist I could be. Certainly, I thought you would like what you saw.
My approach was to sketch my subject du jour on a drawing pad. And once that was done, identify the strengths in my effort and duplicate those on the actual ‘Letter to Byron.’ My first few subjects were guitars and ships. The first few each took me an entire day to complete. I have no training in that medium of art. But as I worked toward the 10,000 hour goal requirement for any mastery, I got better. And I learned that sending these letters to Byron, the feeling when it goes into the post box, was exactly as my Priory therapist said it would be.
A link between me and my beautiful son of four. From my mind and hand to his eyes and heart.
I often wondered if Byron ever received those original letters. In total that period of letters to Byron lasted 6 Months. Unfortunately at that stage I was not as organized as I would later become in photographing and archiving every letter. So, if they ended up in Adler’s bin, there is no other record of 6 months of work by the beginner artist Andrew.
I could never have imagined then sitting as I do now, writing these words in the context of Letters to Byron. Or more specifically; I could never have imagined the extent of inherent corruption in British family law that forms the factual matrix explaining why I no longer live in the UK and why my son is prevented from seeing or speaking to his own father. Or how a lawyer named Graham Coy from the firm MUNDAYS got away with invoicing me £189,000 for incompetent negligence and malpractice that beggars belief.
Before I could act on my expensive advice, to send Letters to Bryon, I had to establish an address to put on the envelope. I understood that without the correct address my expensive advice (by the therapist and the lawyer) was not worth the price of the stamp and that formed the subject for my next session at the Priory.
How do I find out where to send these letters we have decided on?
By now it was almost a month during which my emails requesting the address were ignored. Instead of seeing you and discussing details of the custodial parent, I was receiving emails from Adler that read “Pay me £100,000 and you can see him as much as you want. Not before.
“My therapist’s advice was “You need a lawyer to write for you to her. Time is passing and it does not appear that you are going to get this information any other way. His mother has set out her stall in a certain way and although it might be difficult for you to believe, unfortunately for both of you, it is not Charlotte’s intention to assist Byron seeing you. He will be missing you terribly. You will have to be pro active. Find a family lawyer and get them on it. Charlotte will have to provide the address once she knows keeping it from you is in the open. Its the law. It will be expensive, possibly a few thousand pounds, but it is a necessary expense.”
And so I set out to find a member of family law to represent me in finding out where Byron was.
That is how I met Graham Coy. In July of 2013. Graham Coy began representing me until I fired him, about 2 years too late, in 2015, by which time he had invoiced me £189,000. Of which he had been paid £160,000.
In July 2013, when I was looking for a lawyer to find Byron’s address, Coy offered me a free consultation following which he told me that he would ensure I receive Byron’s address and that it was imperative that we get visitation in progress without delay.
That £20,000 didn’t last long. The first £5,000 went on him writing stern letters to Adler, reminding her that she had an obligation in law to provide his client with his son’s address. After three weeks of producing the same net outcome that I had done before retaining him, he sent me a detailed invoice showing his cost of £3,000 in stern letters to Charlotte convinced him that the only way forward was to “go to court to force that woman to disclose the child’s address. As is his right. And of course, hither-to-fore, as I have mentioned, is her obligation.”
Sure enough, £2,000 of legal costs later, Coy had a court meeting set for Friday at 12. Where I was assured “She will have to disclose the address or she will be in serious trouble.“.
I was not required to attend this hearing and was expecting to hear from Coy anytime after 12, when he had Byron’s address.
Instead, I heard from Coy at 11.30.
“I am on the train, almost at Waterloo, and I have some excellent news. Charlotte has conceded and sent the address.”
Excellent news? What?
£5,000 I paid to Graham Coy at Mundays and now I had Byron’s address. Beyond excellent. It was fan-effing-tastic news. Well worth £5,000. And as an added bonus, the judge would never record her conduct.
Who wouldn’t be thrilled with such a great service by a family law firm that delivered a total win for Adler.
With nothing on record to show that she withheld the child’s address for almost one entire month. (In breach of her obligations to the Solicitors regulation authority code of ethics.) Plus I got to pay £5,000 in legal charges. Great job Graham Coy.
My next session at the Priory was working out how to deal with the fact that Adler had withheld Byron’s address from me for five weeks. (Actually 39 days from when I knew where he was until I had his address.) Without allowing it to shift my focus from the key thing. Getting my son back. My therapist had shown me clearly that I was entirely to blame for allowing Adler to remove the child from the house after the ‘fathers day mafia hit. Which was done specifically to distract me with the shock factor to enable the child to be removed.
I have to own that. I was outsmarted. and the child as removed from his home with me. Now came the battle to get him back.
It didn’t seem right, my therapist and me agreed, that I should have to pay (close to) £5,000 just to get the address of where my son was, while the party responsible for both deceits; withholding the address and then making sure I faced a maximum legal bill for my right to know where my son was, should walk away a clear winner, unmarked by any impropriety as a member of family law.
Nor as a mother secured in anonymity from any record of her conduct, confident her son would never know what a clever lawyer mummy was that time when she won that smart move that sure helped Byron see his dad. Just like the SRA ethics code spelled out for members of family law. Was it wrong that I had to pay £5,000 just to know the address of where my son was while the mother who visited this cost upon me by playing family law like a game, remains protected by the anonymity family law affords even its most deviant members.
But right then at at time I did not sit back and moan. It was only £5,000 and, frankly, at that time in my life, was not a huge sum. I was more concerned by the fact that Adler got away with breaching SRA ethics code and my duff lawyer failed to take that aspect forward as I instructed him. “Lets not rock the waters.” My focus, assisted by my wonderful therapist, went onto the next step. To get visitation in place as soon as possible. And that is what I instructed Graham Coy to do. I still had £15,000 in the kitty with Mundays. Should be more than enough, he assured me.
“Even if it comes to the worse and we have to make an application for visitation.”
With an address to put on the envelope, (even though that information cost me $5,000) my first letter to Byron went off, 39 days after I last saw him, on 16 June, 2013. At the same time, motivated by the drooling image of Graham Coy’s invoice face, to avoid legal costs my Priory session that day concluded with the decision that asking a close friend to act as intermediary would be a more efficient prospect for arranging visitation, being least traumatic for Byron as well as being less costly.
Ann, Byron’s unofficial godmother and friend since his birth, was the obvious choice. Ann was my friend and neighbor for 20 years and knew Adler from when I first housed her in 2003. Ann was a weekly presence in Byron’s life for four years. Ann agreed to be the mediator. To correspond with and facilitate drop off and collection for the visitation.
Week one of the the visitation became a template for what was to follow for the next 13 weeks.
Ann forwarded my letter to Adler, offering to act as intermediary, in arranging visitation. To receive Byron at her home, three doors down from mine, and ensuring that I would not need to see Adler for the handover of the child. Adler agreed that Ann would be intermediary and relayed correspondence through her. It seemed a practical and reliable way to arrange visitation without lawyers involved.
Except for one thing. Adler is a lawyer first and parent second.
Consultation with my therapist, in the context of her experience as a child psychology expert, as well as my lawyer Coy, the family law professional at £400 an hour, concluded in an application format for that weekend. It’s not that hard. To detail and agree a drop off time followed by a collection time. Adler received an email from Ann containing the relevant details for dropping Byron off after school on Friday at Ann’s home. And the time to collect him from Ann’s at 6pm on Sunday.he would to need any weekend bag. I had clothes, toothbrush and any other personal item a four year old might need as it was his own bedroom her was going back too.
This first weekend visitation proposal went off on the Monday following the Friday disclosure of the residential address in what is described quite well as being ‘on the steps of the court.’ I worked on the text of that first visitation letter and I thought it was a professional and efficient representation of my desire to see my son that coming weekend as much as it was a compelling argument for the merits of my son seeing his father again. Some 43 days after being removed from his bedroom. The same room he would now be spending two nights in, back home with me.
How exciting. In the midst of all this bad feeling, at least Byron would have this weekend with me, as the start of what I proposed as every weekend until we reached a mutual agreement based on his best interests. In that regard, I had the advice of the therapist to work with, and not the advice of the lawyer, who I knew was a member of family law. Who makes money out of conflict between separating parents. And whose advice should always be considered in light of an invoice motivation.
Before fathers day 2013, I was very much the stay at home parent raising Byron for his first four years. I was 90% of the time with him, while his mother was at most 10%. I believed then, as I do now, that he best thing would have been for Byron to live with me, looking after his education, providing his ethical compass and being what I am. An ethically motivated kindness driven musician. But mindful that Adler is an aggressive and dishonest family lawyer, bereft of any ethical compass, I was reassured by Coy that she would act firstly as an avaricious lawyer and secondly as a responsible mother.
“Surely not Graham. I know her. She wouldn’t risk harming Byron like that. It is perfectly reasonable that she would let Byron spend the weekends with me until we reach a decision on raising him. All I am asking for is unfettered visitation. On weekends. She knows how much I mean to Byron and especially his education.”
“I am afraid you are being naive. I know her well. I have seen her at work in Court. I have had occasion to raise a complaint against her professional body for misconduct. She is not an honest person and you should prepare yourself for the worst. You seem like a nice enough fellow, and I mean you no disrespect, but unfortunately you are being unrealistic in thinking you know how Charlotte operates. You will not get anywhere with this woman without a court order. That is the only way you will get to see your son.”
I interpreted that as another lawyer wanting to up their importance and ensure another payday. My plan to use a friend as the intermediary was by far better. And less likely to give rise to animosity. Adler had a historical friendship with Ann. there was a degree of trust. Why wouldn’t she reach an agreement with Ann in the middle? Ann forwarded my letter on Monday. On Tuesday morning we met for coffee at the Mada cafe, both hopeful that an early reply would enable me to look forward to the weekend with my beautiful Byron. Ann checked her email several times in that mornings meet.
But, nothing yet.
We had plans for the weekend. Ann was a part of making the plans. I had the usual quality movies Byron liked lined up for Friday and Saturday. Our after dinner routine previously usually included watching a movie together. Or at least, part of a movie, before he fell asleep. His first immersion movie was “Finding Nemo.” We knew that movie from beginning to end. We could do the narrative lines together as they appeared. Careful Dory. ‘Oh no. Not the mines.’
Byron loved the movies from the first time he saw animation in high definition.
I had ‘Up‘ for the Friday and “The Incredibles” for the Saturday.
I had his favorite meals, bought from Waitrose, in the Fridge, ready for us to cook together.
On Saturday we would walk to Bushy park with a football and check up on his footballing progress, stopping on the way to visit Peter Knight next door, who had been asking when he could see that ‘boy with the beautiful mane of golden locks‘.
Peter was my next door neighbor since 1986 and in his advancing years, I was his first responder. The council had me keep a key to his home, and would call me to go in if any emergency arose as I was right next door. Peter chose to stay home for his final chapter, by now in his nineties and I felt quite privileged to be able to help him achieve this wish, even though, eventually he had to go into assisted living. Peter loved seeing Byron. His face lit up with joy every time. And Byron knew the joy he brought to others and hammed it right up. Byron was raised knowing the value of bringing joy to other people with happy energy.
And so the days of that week passed. Each day I met Ann for coffee in the morning. No news. Each evening we had dinner with Bob, and Ann would check her emails. Nothing.
Until Thursday night. At 9.37 pm. Ann’s email pinged while we were having dinner in her home. the day before the scheduled visit. Adler cancelled.
My first thought was ‘Darn. Graham Coy was right about that one.’
That’s it for today,
Page Links in chronological order
The first of the LETTERS TO BYRON: The PILOT
2nd GRAHAM COY
3rd: TOM AMLOT
4rd: Thanksgiving day
5th: Michele O’LEARY. The switch Judge
6th : Raining in California
9th: Brexit and Greek war
10th: Winnie the Poo
11th: December kayaking
12th: Family law and Mark Zetin
13th: Xmas day 2018
14th: Maria and Anna
15th: New years eve 2018
16th: Your first smile
17th: Your Uncle GEORGE
18th: The Mighty PACIFIC
19th: WEBSTER and Summer HOLIDAY 2019
20th: Breach of Privacy offense
21st: MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY
23rd: A short note
24th: MUSIC and KINDNESS
25th: Robin Hood
26th: SRA ethical code
27th: NINE YEARS LATER
28th: Valentines day
31st: Quick Note
32nd: Johannesburg 2019
33rd: Still in Johannesburg
34th: More Johannesburg
35th: Last Johannesburg for now
36th: Traveling. Upgrade
40th: CABO ST LUCAS
41st: 1 April. Wallace’s Birthday
42nd: SANTA BARBARA
43rd: Short letter
44th: PINEAPPLE EXPRESS
45th: KIRA visits
46th: Goodbye uncle Lazaros
47th: Easter Monday
48th: OJAI Tennis
49th: Short letter
50th: PARENTAL ALIENATION FACTS
51st: Cartagena memory
52nd: NEW RECORD
53rd: Last letter to 9 yo
54th: First letter to 10 yo
55th: D Day – 75 years
56th: LA QUINTA
57th: MASON GRADUATES
60th: Chris and Golf
61st: Chris visits Byron in London
63rd: PHYLLIS’ LETTER TO BYRON
64th: GUN CRAZY AMERICANS
65th: MISS YOU
67th: Mason leaves for college
69th: Day after 911
70th: PAPOU. CALLING CHRIS
71st: Two Women
72nd: ANOTHER YEAR
73rd: PLANNING CALIFORNIA VISIT 2019
74th: KAYAKING WITH DOLPHINS
75th: M and M
76th: HALLOWEEN 2019