Women's Retirement Radio

Kyla Lines of Richardson Bloom & Lines Family Law Attorneys - Divorce and How It Impacts Retirement for Women - Episode 30

September 06, 2021 Russ Thornton Season 2 Episode 14
Women's Retirement Radio
Kyla Lines of Richardson Bloom & Lines Family Law Attorneys - Divorce and How It Impacts Retirement for Women - Episode 30
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Women's Retirement Radio
Kyla Lines of Richardson Bloom & Lines Family Law Attorneys - Divorce and How It Impacts Retirement for Women - Episode 30
Sep 06, 2021 Season 2 Episode 14
Russ Thornton

In this episode of Women's Retirement Radio, I'm joined by Kyla Lines of Richardson Bloom & Lines Family Law Attorneys.

Kyla handles all aspects of complex divorce cases, including child custody disputes, modification of child support, and modification of custody in Atlanta.

She is also a mediator and serves as an arbitrator. And she's very involved in the local Atlanta legal community.

Kyla and I cover a lot in our conversation. She even shared one of her favorite things... a cooking/recipe subscription from the New York Times.

For more on Kyla and Richardson Bloom & Lines Family Law Attorneys, please check out these resources:

Get in touch and let me know what you think or if you have any questions.

And thank you for listening.

Visit my website to learn more.

Disclosures

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Women's Retirement Radio, I'm joined by Kyla Lines of Richardson Bloom & Lines Family Law Attorneys.

Kyla handles all aspects of complex divorce cases, including child custody disputes, modification of child support, and modification of custody in Atlanta.

She is also a mediator and serves as an arbitrator. And she's very involved in the local Atlanta legal community.

Kyla and I cover a lot in our conversation. She even shared one of her favorite things... a cooking/recipe subscription from the New York Times.

For more on Kyla and Richardson Bloom & Lines Family Law Attorneys, please check out these resources:

Get in touch and let me know what you think or if you have any questions.

And thank you for listening.

Visit my website to learn more.

Disclosures

Russ Thornton:
Hey everyone. It's Russ. Welcome to another episode of Women's Retirement Radio. Today. I'm excited to be joined by Kyla Lines. Kyla is a family law attorney here in Atlanta, and we're just going to have an interesting conversation that we wanted to share with you. So Kyla, welcome to the show.

Kyla Lines:
Thank you. Thank you so much for having me on. I have to admit this is my first podcast experience. Well, I feel a little younger.

Russ Thornton:
Well, I guess that's not a bad thing. I guess I'm happy to play a role in that to some degree. Well, I'm glad you could join us. I think there's a lot of interesting things we can talk about today. But why don't we start by you just telling us a little bit about yourself, who you are and what it is you do?

Kyla Lines:
Sure. So I am the newly minted managing member is the technical term, but most people would just call it a partner at Richardson Bloom & Lines here in where our offices are in Midtown. We are all family law all the time. I think actually all of the Richardson part just recently retired. But our three partners have only practiced family law exclusively. I think the entirety of our legal careers. Then before I joined this firm, I was a staff attorney for a judge named Cindy Wright in Fulton Superior Court for nine years. We were in the family division the entire time. So this is all I have done. Originally, if you want to go back into the whole on details. I grew up in a tiny town in Ohio that is two hours from any place you've ever heard of, and desperately wanted to get out of Ohio when I graduated from high school.

Kyla Lines:
So I did a stint in college, in New Jersey and then moved to Atlanta for law school, and it stuck. So I've lived here longer than anywhere else. I am very happy to practice family law. I love what I do. There not a ton of lawyers who can say that. So there you have it.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. I was very deliberate when I introduced you as a family law attorney, and you've since referred to yourself as practicing family law as opposed to a lot of my clients, and I think a lot of the public would think of you as a divorce attorney or a divorce lawyer. So could you talk a little bit about maybe the scope or the breadth of all you do maybe outside of just dealing with divorce cases?

Kyla Lines:
Sure, absolutely. So, yeah, when I think of family law, part of the thing that my firm in particular, our philosophy is recognizing that even when people divorce they still, especially when they have children in particular. There's still going to be a family. They're just not an intact family anymore. So, yeah, divorce law or, divorce is a big part of that. But we also handle, especially in the last 20 years, we see a lot more cases where folks weren't married, but had a, oftentimes even a long-term relationship with children. So family law, the scope of family law includes handling custody cases in that context. In Georgia is something called legitimation. Ensuring that children have inheritance rights from both parents when they're born out of wedlock.

Kyla Lines:
Then subsequent to divorce, post-divorce. Occasionally folks need to modify their custody schedule, or their parenting time with a child or modify their child support obligation or alimony obligation. So there are certain pieces of a divorce that can be modified post-divorce. So we deal with those things. Then we also deal with contempt cases, which is when one side is not compliant or is not obeying the court order that has arisen out of their divorce. So we handle those. Then finally all of the attorneys in my firm do what's called guardian ad litem work.

Kyla Lines:
That is when, essentially if parents can't agree on what a custody schedule was supposed to look like, the courts appoint, in most circumstances, an attorney to investigate the situation, and eventually make a custody recommendation to the court. I'm proud to say my partner, Dan Bloom is one of, if not the best guardian ad litem in the state. He's extremely sought after, and he has trained most of us throughout the state very well. Then finally, I guess I said finally last time, but part of being a divorce lawyer or a family lawyer is really, you got to be parked counselor. You're dealing with people who are going through an extremely emotional thing that is actually going to be very happy experience for some people in a very traumatic, and very sad experience for others. So a big piece of this is knowing your role, and helping your clients understand when a good therapist can help. But at the same time you have to come into this with a level of empathy, and understanding for people's personalities that is definitely unique to family law.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. I'm glad you mentioned that last part about the empathy, and sometimes the need for an actual therapist. But I imagine you often serve as an amateur therapist quite often. Imagine the perfect storm of dealing with money, dealing with children, and often dealing that in an environment of conflict. That's, as much as I think people would like to think we're going to be cool and calculated about this, it's a very emotionally charged experience for all parties involved. So I think the fact that you guys do and are willing to bring a sense of empathy in just treating people like humans, I think is important.

Russ Thornton:
I think that's often kind of almost joked about that attorneys don't serve in that role, aren't capable of serving that role. So I think it's important that you shared that and I'm happy you did. As I understand it, Kyla, you also serve as a mediator and/or an arbitrator, correct?

Kyla Lines:
That is correct. Part of my background, and having worked for a judge for nine years, I think brings a unique perspective for me on my practice or into my practice, because I've seen these cases from a more neutral perspective. So even when I'm acting as an advocate, it allows me to reality check my client and say, "I've worked for a judge. I know how judges see these things." That's typically how we evaluate all of our cases is the vast majority, 90% don't ever see a judge. You settle your case and we encourage settlement. But at the same time, you always have the fall back on, "Well, worst case scenario, we're going to court, and this is how a judge would assess your case."

Kyla Lines:
So I have that for my clients, but it also helps me to serve as a mediator, and arbitrator. Because you kind of bring that neutral perspective that all attorneys just don't have. Because we're kind of taught to be positional and dig our heels in on a position. That's just not always the best way to serve your client, especially again, in family law cases. There's always a cost benefit analysis that goes into it, which I know as a financial person you can understand. There's always a cost benefit analysis for the emotional cost of something.

Kyla Lines:
So serving as an arbitrator, and to the extent I need to explain the difference. Arbitration is binding and you are more judge like, whereas mediation is purely voluntary, and non-binding on folks. So I tend to do a little more mediation than arbitration. But the idea is that it is always better in family cases for people to reach their own agreement, even if they don't like parts of it, than it is to something life-changing imposed upon them by a stranger who frankly knows nothing about them.

Russ Thornton:
Right. Yeah. Well, you mentioned a lot in there some of which we'll probably want to revisit in our conversation here today. But before we move along, why don't you... you've already shared a lot about you being from a small town in Ohio, college in New Jersey, landing in Atlanta several years ago and kind of calling this home ever since. But what's an interesting tidbit about yourself that maybe most people wouldn't be aware of?

Kyla Lines:
So I don't know that this counts as interesting but well, a couple of things. I actually spent quite a large chunk of my life in West Virginia. I don't own that very often, so no offense to your West Virginia listeners. Then I probably spend the majority of my budget on concerts, and music venues. I have traveled extensively solely in pursuit of the perfect concert.

Russ Thornton:
Kyla, I guess that's been on a hide as you're the last [crosstalk 00:10:12] for a review so. You've probably been in withdrawal.

Kyla Lines:
I've shifted that to Amazon purchases.

Russ Thornton:
I don't think you're alone. I don't think you're alone in that situation. But what's the best concert or a musical performance you've seen in the last few years that jumps to mind?

Kyla Lines:
That's an easy one. I have a very good friend who is also an attorney, and a family lawyer, and former judge. A couple of years ago, she was never really a Springsteen fan. I've been a Springsteen fan since seventh grade. So I dragged her along with me to a show at Lakewood, and it was amazing and she was an instant fan. Then two years ago she scored front row seats to Springsteen on Broadway. Her husband said, "I can't go with you. You got to take Kyla." So the two of us got to sit front and center for the Springsteen Broadway Show. He handed us guitar picks at the end. I might have physically assaulted him just a little.

Kyla Lines:
He handed me the guitar pick, and I realized that taking that out of his hand meant that I wasn't actually going to touch him. So I grabbed his wrist. Just startled him a little. It was fine. I didn't get carted out. But yeah, that's hands down, but I also got to see The Rolling Stones here a few years ago. She did that for me, the friend who took me to Springsteen. I was not a huge Stones fan, but I got to say, Mick Jagger has more charisma in his thinking even. The majority of the other musicians I have ever seen.

Russ Thornton:
Well, he probably needs it to help keep Keith Richards alive.

Kyla Lines:
Right. Well, I got to tell you, Keith's got more charisma in his index finger. The two of them on stage. It's kind of amazing when you see them. Just natural energy. You can't harness it, and you can't explain it.

Russ Thornton:
So, we could probably talk music all day, because I'm a music lover too. But with when things starting to open back up, is there any concerts that you're planning to attend in the coming weeks or months that you're excited about?

Kyla Lines:
My husband, I'm actually saying that out loud. I just got married on Saturday. So, there's the other [crosstalk 00:12:26]. The divorce lawyer got married. I think that's the first time... It might be the first time I've said my husband. But he and I, one of our Venn diagram of things in common are his musical tastes in some ways is very different than mine. Then we overlap quite a bit, and we've been looking for the perfect music festival. But we keep telling ourselves, "Just be patient, just be patient, just be patient." We have tickets to see a band called Clutch in Asheville in September.

Kyla Lines:
But that's our first one back, but we had looked at... there was a music festival in Napa that we looked at getting tickets for it. It just kind of wound up being an obscene amount of money. There's a a festival in Chicago called Riot Fest. Yes. That sounds like it's for the kids. I know, but we looked at that, and I don't think we're going to be able to make that happen. So we're trying to cool our jets and be patient.

Russ Thornton:
Well, hey, first of all, congrats on the wedding. That's awesome. Look at you, being on podcasts and going to music festivals.

Kyla Lines:
I know.

Russ Thornton:
You're living the dream and keeping yourself young. So, I think we've already kind of covered this ground. So I don't know that we need to rehash kind of explaining what it is you do and things like that. So, kind of extending that idea, what would you say in your experience is the biggest challenge that you help people address, or solve? I guess maybe in the context of a divorce?

Kyla Lines:
Sure. Kind of. Maybe, obviously it depends on the issues, right? There are a lot of folks who come into me. The first thing I would say is my goal always with any initial meeting with the client is that they leave feeling better than they came in. So a lot of folks come in for their first meeting having this huge life-changing situation put upon them. Because they're not the ones choosing to get divorced. They're obviously in a very emotional state, and no knowledge of what the future holds. So that oftentimes can be just that first meeting that that goal is not always attainable, but I would say I have... There are a lot of times when people are leaving that first meeting where they just feel a huge sense of, hopefully feel a huge sense of relief. Because they've been educated, but it really depends on what the issues are.

Kyla Lines:
Oftentimes people will come in and say I think we're going to work out the financial issues. It's not that complicated, but the custody issues are hard. We see a lot of divorce cases with special needs kids. When you've got a special needs child, the divorce rate is actually much higher than I think every... Most people are aware of the divorce rate is about 50% in special needs kids. It's higher than that just because of it's much harder to be on the same page with how to parent, children in that circumstance, unfortunately. Then obviously when we have cases, like you're probably a little bit more familiar with.

Kyla Lines:
When it's a complex asset division trying to explain the different sort of buckets, and the different types of assets to somebody who may not be particularly savvy about the financial picture. It can be quite challenging as well. So it really just kinda depends, right? Then you have the big one where there's the the custody issues, and financial issues. You got a bunch of complex things to tackle, and to just make sure your clients educated and understands the process. Because as I said before, we understand that it's a scary, scary thing to a lot of people.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. I guess, hopefully we're talking about people here. So I'm not surprised to hear you say it depends. I guess people bring different circumstances in situations and mindsets and emotional baggage to the table.

Kyla Lines:
I suggest that law school, it depends. That's the standard answer.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. So, I almost hesitate to use this word in the context of divorce. But thinking back over the last few years, what's a maybe a client success that comes to mind? Given that it depends clearly and given all of the potential moving parts in any single case. Is there something that comes to mind for you of you walking away from that thinking like that was a good outcome despite the circumstances?

Kyla Lines:
Yeah. I don't want to go into too many details, but I have two. One, financial and one custody related. I have a case from last year where my client hadn't relocated to an Asian country with her husband and child. He was going to be teaching. Right before the pandemic hit, I think in January of last year, she found out that he was involved in an extramarital relationship, and she wanted to bring the child back home to Atlanta. He had taken the child's passport. So we were able to assist her in getting an emergency court order here in Georgia for the state department to issue a new passport, and get him on a plane and come back.

Kyla Lines:
Then we wound up having a lengthy trial under the Hague Convention, which is an international treaty. So we had a trial in May in person in federal court here in Atlanta over whether she and the child would be permitted to stay here to proceed with the divorce, or whether the child would be sent back. My partner, Melody and I handled that, and were successful and extremely happy when we got that decision. That was one of those you open your email, and your hands are shaking as you're reading the opinion.

Russ Thornton:
Holy cow. Yeah. I'm kind of forward by the situation, or the picture you just painted. But then I guess adding the international layer to all of that, and I'm guessing communication challenges and time zones and things like that. I can only imagine how challenging, but probably interesting that must've been.

Kyla Lines:
Yes. It was actually my first case under that treaty. It was Melody's as well, but she had actually written an amicus brief for the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and a group that she's a member of. She wrote an amicus brief to our first Supreme Court case. She was very well versed in the law. So when my client got served with this petition under the Hague Convention, I was like, "Wow. I know I sort of had heart palpitations, and looked at Melody and she's like, "Oh, we got this. We're good. It's okay."

Kyla Lines:
So, yeah, that was a very good thing. Then from the financial perspective, I just had a case a couple of months ago. It's still a divorce case. It's still ongoing, but we prevailed in a summary judgment related to separate property that swung the marital asset pot into a much larger asset category than the other side had hoped. So that was another one where I got the order, and my client was... she was very happy. But it was one of those mortars that I read and I thought, "Maybe I just need to stop practicing law now." This is just such a great result. I might be done.

Russ Thornton:
Right on top?

Kyla Lines:
Yeah, it was good. Yeah, family law, it's so discretionary with judges and the interesting thing about it, or one of the interesting misnomers about it is I think there are a lot of lawyers out there who think they can just dabble in that it's simple. But there are lots and lots of little technical intricacies that make it important to have someone in your corner who specializes in it. This summary judgment issue is what I would cite as an example of that. It's just categorizing property as marital versus separate. Somebody trying to claim that they had separate property that ballooned during the marriage, you really need a lawyer who is going to understand the law on that rather than just kind of making assumptions.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. I could agree more just to reiterate super clearly what you just said. If you're considering or being presented with a potential divorce or any kind of family law situation, it makes a whole hell of a lot of sense to interview, and seek out an attorney that focuses on family law all the time, a hundred percent of the time. Because as Kyla just stated, if you've got somebody that's doing some family law, but they're also doing some estate planning, or some business law here and there. I can't even imagine the challenge to keep up with any one discipline, let alone two or three or more. So, I think that's an important point and I'm glad you mentioned that. What's surprised you most about your work in family law over the years?

Kyla Lines:
That's a tough question. Probably it's the evolving nature of it is one thing. Custody and parenting time in particular has it evolved significantly over the years. There's been a bit of a shift in balance. I'm certainly over the last five years represented a lot more women in cases where they're the breadwinner for various reasons. So that's not necessarily surprising. I guess we sort of all have seen that coming as the workforce in some ways has equalized, although pay still has not. But the other thing is there's been a major flip in the judiciary in the Atlanta Metro Area just in the last five to 10 years, which is also natural.

Kyla Lines:
But we've lost a lot of judges in Fulton County and Cobb County in particular in the last few years with just retirement, and the nature of that. So the changes in the judiciary have come with sort of evolving, and changing attitudes towards family law, and the structure of families. That's something that has been a bit surprising in a good way, and not to say that the judges have been doing this for a long time. It's great to have that body of experience. But at the same time, it's been refreshing to have new sets of eyes here and there as well. That's been a an interesting shift.

Russ Thornton:
Kind of to carry that full thought forward, I've experienced this anecdotally, and I'd love to get your thoughts or feedback. You mentioned a couple of times in our conversation how judges are going to trial. You're often putting your case in, well, I shouldn't say often. You're putting your case basically in someone else's hand to make decisions. But the judge or the attorneys maybe bring their own biases is probably too stronger word, but their own kind of approach or philosophy or perspective to the table.

Russ Thornton:
So like recently, and I've experienced this before, but I have got a woman who was just referred to me in the last 30 days. She's early sixties, getting divorced after 35 plus years of marriage, but she's been a stay-at-home mom, raised two kids. She told me, again, I've heard this before from other attorneys, that generally a lot of judges frown, I shouldn't say frowned upon. They do not reward stay-at-home wives or stay-at-home moms as equitably as they might a woman that worked, if not full-time, had worked in the past. So I don't know if I'm explaining that very clearly, but is that something you've experienced, or is that something that you would at least brushing with a broad stroke would agree with?

Kyla Lines:
Yeah, definitely. I definitely would. Those cases are oftentimes unfortunately the hardest for us to handle because of the realities of it, and sort of de-valuing in our society of a stay at home parent. It's going to be interesting to see how this, how it develops, or continues to develop. Because yeah, a couple of things. There are a sort of an expectation based on age at the time of the divorce. It's a lot different if I've got a 40 year old client, who has a bachelor's degree and has been a stay-at-home-mom versus a six year old female client.

Kyla Lines:
I'm being honest at this point, I have some 40 year old male clients who have a bachelor's degree and have been a stay-at-home-dad too. That dynamic changes things. But when you're talking about somebody who's 55 or 60, the considerations that go into that, it's difficult to say to somebody that age, "Oh, well, you need to go back to school and get a job." But the flip side of that too is I think a lot of judges view it as the breadwinner. It's also not fair to expect that person to work until they're 75 years old in order to pay alimony to somebody else. So if that's where you come in, hopefully there are retirement assets that are accumulated, and divided equitably that in a way, or equitably, meaning fairly. So not equal. So that's the other part of Georgia Law that's important to remember, is there's sort of this idea that when you get divorced, there's a pot of marital assets, and they get divided 50/50 while oftentimes that's an equal division, but it's not equitable.

Kyla Lines:
Especially when one spouse is going to continue to earn, and does not have a great earning capacity. But yes, your question. The court system with one or two exceptions, there's one judge who is sort of famous for his philosophy being my mom got lifetime alimony when my dad divorced her. So there you go. So if you're lucky enough to get that one particular judge, he brings his personal bias in favor of the stay-at-home mom. But a lot of that, unfortunately does not happen often.

Russ Thornton:
Well, onto your earlier comment. The reason I commend you for encouraging people to settle, or reach an agreement via mediation, and not go to trial is because you're literally rolling the dice and depending on what jurisdiction you're in and things like that of which judge you get. And that particular judge's personal history, or views on this. This is just a single example that I'm sure there are others. So I think that just helps emphasize the need and the urgency to reach an agreement, or find a settlement and avoid going to trial if at all possible.

Russ Thornton:
Arguably, there's a ton of misconceptions about attorneys in general, and probably [crosstalk 00:30:02] Probably family law specifically, but what's a common misconception about your work that you've experienced either kind of broadly, or maybe just specifically in communicating with clients?

Kyla Lines:
Oh, sure. We're all sharks, right? That's that. That we're all dishonest, and that we will encourage our clients to be dishonest. That's one thing that for me philosophically, and part of the reason I joined this firm when I came out of the judge's office is that we all... Our lawyers who also have consciences that... we need to sleep at night. We all sort of have the same philosophy of this thing. My preference would be to preserve my client's assets for them, and for their children. I'll be fine. So there is certainly a misconception that divorce lawyers are in it just to make money for themselves. There certainly are some like that. But the misconception is that we are all that way.

Kyla Lines:
Like I said, I try to do everything with my clients in a cost benefit analysis way. Why would you pay me $10,000 to recover five. It doesn't make much sense. So I try to give people a good reality check on how much something's going to cost both, like I said earlier, I think emotionally. There's an emotional cost that you can't really put a dollar on. I think that's it.

Russ Thornton:
Well, yeah, I think that's an important point. I think it also hearkens back to earlier when you talked about the importance of empathy, and just to be clear, for you to encourage people to settle the mediation, or out of court, that's you making less money. Because if you've got a lawyer up and go to trial, that's A, it's going to take longer, but it's going to cost a heck of a lot more money. So you need to recognize the attorney's motivations, good or bad for the direction they're steering you and I-

Kyla Lines:
Yeah. There are certainly times when trial is worth it, right?

Russ Thornton:
Yeah.

Kyla Lines:
I like to tell my clients, "Listen, I am a competitive person. I was a competitive tennis player for a number of years until my knees decided that was not a great idea. I don't like to lose. So I am not a lawyer who enjoys going to court and get my kicked over an issue that I know is going to... what I know it's going to go that way." But you can pay me a lot of money to do that, but I don't enjoy it even when I'm getting paid. Because I don't like to lose.

Kyla Lines:
So going, there is no reason to do that when we have a reasonable understanding of what the outcome is likely to be. Now, when we have a reasonable understanding of what the outcome is likely to be, and the other side is taking a completely ridiculous position, there is certainly a time and a place to go to court. I much prefer to do that when I have a good indication of which side of that I'm going to be on at the end. I think my clients appreciate that more.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. Clearly it makes sense to fight battles you feel like you got a good chance of winning. Going back and recognizing the fact that you earlier said it depends for each situation. But given that, what's a specific strategy, or piece of advice that while clearly it's not going to be suitable for every situation that you're dealing with, you've found to be particularly effective as it relates to divorce or family law in general?

Kyla Lines:
This comes from my judicial perspective. You get a lot of people who initially come in and they want to go tit for tat. If the other side is being an asshole, they think it's going to benefit them to be an asshole back. That's just not the case. Judges you got to, especially where kids are concerned. I have the luxury, I think, to some extent with lawyers and clients water seeks its own level. I like to think of myself as a rational strategic thinker, and it's a match. That's one of the things circling back to when you were talking about, and I'm going a little bit off on a tangent here. But when we were talking about finding a lawyer who specializes. It's also important to find a lawyer who you trust from a personality perspective. Professionally, of course.

Kyla Lines:
Everybody's not a personality match. I have certainly had consults with clients, and I have said this, and I am not your lawyer. I can give you names of other folks. This is just not, you know? I would say that one of, again, one of the things that attracted me to this from when I was choosing where to go is we are all very much highroad people. We all coach our clients. This is not the circumstance despite what you've seen in movies and on TV shows. This is not the circumstance where you want to get down in the mud.

Kyla Lines:
Well, the worst thing you can do is be the bad actor when you go in front of a court. Again, especially where your kids are concerned. So we spend a lot of time coaching our clients many of whom are already of that mind frame. Which is great. But that's one of the, and I can circle this back to your misconception thing too, is you want to be, to the extent possible, you want to be the one who is the one taking the high road. You do not want to be the one that a group of divorce lawyers are sitting around at a cocktail hour telling stories of their craziest clients, and the craziest things they've done, because that happens.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. Well, I like that to be a part two of our conversation. We'll have to do another episode and we can talk about the crazy [crosstalk 00:36:56].

Kyla Lines:
Right. I'll talk about other people's crazy ones. I'm not your [crosstalk 00:37:01].

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. Attorney client privilege and all that.

Kyla Lines:
Right.

Russ Thornton:
I always like to ask this question. What if anything prevents people from following your advice? That doesn't have to be like advice big picture, but maybe like some of the smaller battles along the way?

Kyla Lines:
No, I can't say that that's a problem I typically have. If you haven't figured it out already, I tend to be a pretty strong personality. I don't want people to pay me for advice if they're not going to follow it. So that can be a tough conversation to have with a client sometimes, but at the same time if it is not a good personality match, if you're not going to listen to me, and follow advice, then perhaps there is someone else out there who they will listen to, and who would have a better ability to communicate for whatever reason.

Kyla Lines:
So I don't think that happens much. Occasionally, and that's not to say I'm always right. Certainly I have had clients that I would say are smarter than I am in many ways. I'm not here giving them investment advice. So hopefully they wouldn't follow that if I tried. I'll send them to you for that. But I think that sometimes it's hard hear the tough advice. I would say if, and there are certainly times when I'm giving people tough advice and tough love. So that's probably the biggest barrier, is just not wanting to hear it.

Russ Thornton:
It sounds like it really just comes back to finding a good attorney client relationship where there's a good fit personality wise, professionally, philosophically. I got to think that solves a lot of problems with where they happen. Also, I'd a quick comment. I talking about clients conserving their assets and their funds and things like that. I've seen a couple of clients get pretty far down the road with a family law attorney only to, for whatever reason, had an impasse and they have to literally go back and start over with another attorney. Not just the financial expense, but the emotional expense of having to basically go through that entire discovery process again with a new attorney and rehash stories you've already told, and things like that. So yeah, think maybe that kind of put a pin in this. It's be very, very selective and choose wisely when seeking out the right family attorney for you, or family law attorney for you.

Kyla Lines:
For sure. Yeah. There were a couple of years ago and this hasn't happened as much lately, but it seems like with every, I don't know. You wind up dealing with the same five situations in a year, then you don't see it again for awhile, but it's been a sound flippant, and I don't mean it that way. But I wound up charging a couple of different clients a lot more money than they should have had to pay anybody to try to undo what a past not great attorney had done. So I call it unscrambling eggs. So these people are put in a situation where they've come to me as the second lawyer with kind of a bag of bad advice.

Kyla Lines:
It's unfortunate because I'd been your first lawyer, it would have been done differently to start with. The strategy would have been completely different. I usually say that to folks. I'll do my best at unscrambling your eggs, but there's only so much of that I can do. I can try to shift the trajectory here. We can shift strategies. That is hard for me as a professional to deal with, because of course like I said, I have a conscience. It doesn't feel right to me to do that. But I also hope that I am able to do it.

Russ Thornton:
Right. Well, and clearly you won't get the best outcome for your clients, even if that means you've got to take a couple steps back to move forward on the right path. I like the unscrambling eggs analogy. That paints a pretty clear picture of what it is you're doing in those situations. So we've talked a lot about your practice family law and the things that you do. So a lot of my listeners are women in their fifties, sixties, and are older. Their family, their kids, even if their adult kids are one of the most important things in their lives.

Russ Thornton:
So the question I like to ask is if let's say a high school senior, or maybe a college undergrad is thinking about law school, or they've always been intrigued by the legal profession and they hear this conversation they're like, "Wow, Kyla sounds like a cool person, family law sounds interesting." Especially when we get to work on international cases and things like that, which I'm sure it'll pop up every week. But if a high school senior, a college student is listening to this and they think, "Wow, I'd like to learn more. I'd maybe like to pursue a a legal career or maybe more specifically a career in family law." Any advice or guidance you'd give to someone like that?

Kyla Lines:
Take a lot of psychology classes, because learning to sort of understand and discuss things with people and understand the personalities it play is a big, big piece of this job. The other thing, and this is actually just advice for anybody in that age range. I've given this speech to a lot of people who kind of look at me cross-eyed sometimes, but almost every job you are going to have as an adult professional boils down to customer service. I am in the job of customer service. My job as a customer service job. Your job is day customer service job. So some of the best life experience in my opinion for a young person to have is some sort of a customer service job.

Kyla Lines:
I learned more from waitressing my way through college, and a little bit in law school. I learned more about people and how to handle situations and how to think on my feet by doing those jobs. And how to be nice when you're having a crappy day, because your livelihood depends on it. So I think that I'm not certain that that is, and I'm going to sound like get off my lawn old person here. But I'm not certain that that's really something... the value in those jobs is something that is really imparted upon young people. For me, when I was 15 years old, I had a sister who was 10 years older than I was. She had waitress all through high school and then worked retail through college. I was like, "Well, gee, I can make 350 an hour working at a gift shop, or I can make 10 bucks an hour waitressing at this restaurant." So that was first job I had when I was 16 years old was waiting tables.

Kyla Lines:
It teaches you a lot about dealing with people that has made a huge difference for me in my ability to interact with bosses. When I worked for a judge and interact with the lawyers that were hopefully voting for her, and constituents. Then in this job as a lawyer who is ultimately serving my clients in difficult situations. So that's probably not what most of your undergrad, your law school aspiring law students really want to hear. But I think that it's something that's been lost a little bit on the 20 to 30 something, 35 ish generation. I'm not going to bash millennials because I think they take way too much already. But I think that is such a huge piece of your ability to succeed as the professional.

Russ Thornton:
What great advice. A, I love the idea of taking psychology and having a better understanding of just humans, and all of our flaws and weird ways of making decisions. Frankly, I think the customer service and an idea of waiting tables ties into that nicely too. Because it gives you a peek into different people, and rude people and polite people and people that tip well and don't. And dealing with your coworkers and juggling priorities.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, I agree. I think that's great life advice, but specifically good advice for someone that's considering maybe a law career of some flavor or another. So thanks for sharing that. Kyla, I feel like you, and I could probably talk for another hour easily, but you good for another few questions?

Kyla Lines:
Yeah, absolutely.

Russ Thornton:
Cool. So this is Women's Retirement Radio. It's all about women in their fifties, sixties thinking about kind of the next chapter in their life and retirement. Clearly that word is loaded and means very different things to very different people. But when you think about the word retirement, what comes to mind for you personally?

Kyla Lines:
Oh, gosh. Well, I'll tell a story of what hopefully active. That's everybody's goal, right? I hope that's everybody's goal, is to be able to actively enjoy my retirement. I got to say I kind of flip flop on that because to some extent like, "Well, I want to spend a lot of money now when I'm still in my forties, and in good health." But at the same time, and thankfully my husband is of the other like, "No, we're going to save for retirement, so that we can live it up during our retirement." So gosh, travel goals. Then we also kind of have that conversation about what would we do? What would we do? Ideally. I can't imagine that I'm not still going to be as a retired person actively volunteering, or I don't know. Something is going to have to occupy my day, but all of that comes with financial security. And the ability too. So I tend to think more, and this is just my personality type.

Kyla Lines:
I tend to think more about the dreaminess of it rather than the reality of it. Thankfully I have a partner who thinks more about the reality of it, and everybody doesn't have that luxury. It's one of those things that I always thought, "Oh my gosh, that's just so far off." I am now quickly approaching 50. It's not as far off as it used to seem. I have plenty of time, really? Not so much anymore.

Russ Thornton:
Well, it sounds like you and your husband are well balanced as far as thinking about and planning ahead for the financial responsibilities that will face you down the road. So, that's a good thing. But I do, I agree. There's a lot of research that supports people that retire, but don't really have something to retire to. Whether that's family volunteering, maybe working part-time, and more of kind of like a passion project type job. Their health declines [crosstalk 00:49:29]. Say again.

Kyla Lines:
I just want to be in a flower shop. I just want to be surrounded by flowers. That's how I envision retirement, gardening and flowers.

Russ Thornton:
But you also raise an important point, which is a lot of people can kind of, even unconsciously kind of sign up for the deferred life plan. I'm going to live it up once I'm 65 and retired and have more time. But to your point, which I think is an important one. You don't know what your health is going to be like, you don't know what the world is going to be like then, you don't know if we're going to be in a travel lockdown, or who the heck knows what will be living at that time. I think there's a lot to be said for striking a balance between being well-prepared for an uncertain future, and living a great life today. So I commend you. It sounds like you sounds like you've got a healthy attitude as you kind of think about retirement down the road.

Russ Thornton:
I know you mentioned earlier that you found yourself working more, in the last few years, with more women breadwinners in families, things like that. But clearly you also kind of alluded to the fact that there are still some challenges specific to women thinking about retirement. Whether that's kind of the pay gap or the fact that women live longer generally. What do you see as the biggest challenge that women specifically face when they're planning for retirement?

Kyla Lines:
Well, we still sort of from a societal perspective, I think I still see more women who lack knowledge of the financial picture. With your audience being who they are, I'm not sure I'm going to be saying anything helpful to them because we're already in this situation. But what I see a lot of still in my practice is women who are... even if they're the perfect human, they're also have had a job. They've been the ones who have sort of manage the payment of the day-to-day bills. But as far as knowledge of investments, and investment vehicles and aware that the assets are, they lack that knowledge.

Kyla Lines:
It's something that I'm hoping we're going to see shift more and more. But from a societal perspective, I don't think that's just kind of one of the traditional things that has still not shifted as much as many traditional things have. So that's, I think where it's important for somebody like you to come in, who can help educate people, women in particular, about what their options are, and what the picture is.

Kyla Lines:
So for anybody who's listening who is contemplating divorce, or sees it coming, educating yourself sooner rather than later is critically important I think. We see, and I'm sure you see a lot. Occasionally, we'll consult with somebody before the divorce who hasn't made the decision of what to do yet. I also do prenuptial agreements. That's one of the things that I didn't talk about. So when I have a client who is a younger person, who is getting a prenup. It's a female who perhaps isn't the one with the assets going in, and is likely the stay-at-home if they have kids.

Kyla Lines:
I always tell that person let's put part of this in the prenup, is that there will be contributions to a retirement account in your name as part of this. So I know for a lot of folks hindsight's 2020, and there's coulda, woulda, shoulda. But for anybody who still has that as an option, ensuring that there are investments that titled doesn't matter. But at the same, it's helpful if you can ensure that there's some balance there.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. All great points. I agree. You probably see this under a microscope regularly where, and it doesn't always fall along the stereotypical gender lines, where it's the man makes the money. The woman is kind of out of the loop with the family finances. I've seen the reverse be true as well, but it's almost heartbreaking to see sometimes when a lot of wealth has been accumulated, millions of dollars. One of the partners is largely out of the loop as far as the family finances, how they work, how decisions have been made, why decisions have been made.

Russ Thornton:
I found that's where kind of to use your analogy earlier of unscrambling eggs. I've found myself in a position to be introduced to often women coming out of a divorce, and they've got some big financial decisions to make. They're bright, capable, educated women, but they're just not familiar with it. In not being familiar with it, they don't have confidence in. So a lot of times they just kind of get paralyzed by what they think is the enormity of it. It doesn't have to be that way. I think I'm kind of rambling, but want to put an exclamation point on what you shared about it's never too late to get more educated, to talk to people, to learn. There's so many resources online that are free. There's books you can read. So, yeah make sure you're arming yourself certainly for good days ahead.

Russ Thornton:
But in the event you find yourself facing the loss of a spouse or divorce or something like that, you need to be maybe extra well-prepared, and have an understanding of what's going on. So, super important. I'm glad you highlighted that. So as I think we've kind of been dancing around divorce, especially for women later in their life can be really, really impactful. Often negatively so. How would you characterize your work as impacting women, and their families as they plan for transition into retirement maybe as it relates to divorce?

Kyla Lines:
Well, one thing I will say too is, yes, we have danced around this. But we've also kind of painted this, and I think I've done this as well. As horrifying and scary, let me tell you, I bet a lot of our clients who are just thrilled to come out on the other side of this. If you have been in an unhappy marriage or an unhappy relationship for a long period of time, often times, I don't want to be the divorce lawyer advocating for divorce. But I certainly have many clients who oftentimes it's their choice to move forward with it. Oftentimes even when it's not... once you get through it all and you come out on the other end, I have clients I've run into two years later who are just happy. Happy for the first time in a very long time. I do you want to at least recognize that.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. I'm glad you highlighted that because that's absolutely the case. I think we're kind of talking about finances, but I'm thinking of them more in isolation. I too have encountered women and men that a few months or a few years down the road post divorce, and they'll tell you. They're in the best place they've ever been in their lives. But I interrupted. Go ahead.

Kyla Lines:
No, that's okay. The one thing I will say too, and maybe I'm trying to take your negative, and put a positive, or not that you were being negative, but you know what I mean. Control. If there's something liberating, and impactful about having control of your destiny. Whether it's somebody who's coming out of a divorce with not as much as they hoped for, but then working with somebody like you to help them plan for the future. To be the one who is able to harness that. This is also coming from a person who might be a little controlling.

Russ Thornton:
We're not pointing fingers here.

Kyla Lines:
No. That is one of those things that people call me controlling. Yeah, what's wrong with that. It's like somebody calling me competitive. Well, who likes to lose? These are good things as far as I'm concerned. So I think that, and I'm not sure I answered your question. But I think that that is something that is just kind of hugely impactful post-divorce, is to be able to recognize and acknowledge that you're the one. It's scary especially if it's the first time in your life that you've really been the one totally in the driver's seat, but it's refreshing.

Russ Thornton:
I think it can also be empowering too once they get their feet under them, and kind of see a path forward. Which I think you help pay for them and getting them through the divorce process. Hopefully as quickly and painlessly as possible. So as we start to wrap up Kyla, again, this has been great. I'm glad we're having this conversation and able to share it with our listeners. You've already kind of touched on having played tennis, and loving to go to concerts and musical performances. So maybe you've already answered this, but if you've got, I should say if not win. If you've got an hour or two all by yourself, how do you enjoy spending that?

Kyla Lines:
Oh gosh. I usually will read New York Times, cooking recipes and menu plan. I like to cook well. So, if I've got some free time, I peruse what to cook this week email, and usually try to come up with something that sounds good.

Russ Thornton:
What's your favorite go-to recipe?

Kyla Lines:
Oh my goodness. There are so many. All I can say is, and here here's my a bit of financial advice. I think it's like a $40 a year subscription to the New York Times for their cooking bit. It is the best money you could spend. There are a couple of the chefs in particular that I tend to know. Melissa Clark and Sam Sift and pretty much anything by either one of them.

Kyla Lines:
My husband is very COVID mastered cooking Indian food. So he's got quite a few Indian recipes that he has been doing. But I tend to go more towards Thai food and other Asian recipes. I also like to bake probably, if I were going to do anything, it would be baking typically cake or a cobbler type things, cookies occasionally. I can't pick one. That's just impossible to pick a favorite band.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. I'm glad you mentioned that. We will be sure to share a link to the New York Times subscription cooking resource in the notes. That's really cool. As we wrap up, we've covered a ton. We can probably cover a ton more, but if there were one thing that our listeners can take away from our conversation today, what would you want that one thing to be?

Kyla Lines:
Oh gosh. Divorce doesn't have to be bad. Doesn't have to be a bad thing. I think that's really it.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. I think that's a nice succinct way to kind of wrap up our conversation today. So, if someone's listening, Kyla, they want to learn more about you, your firm, the work you do, what's the best way that people could reach out or learn more or find you online?

Kyla Lines:
So I'll tell a funny story. I met my husband, who I mentioned a few times already. I'm just getting so thrilled with saying the word. I met him on an online dating site 11 years ago. I had a fake name because if you Google Kyla, K-Y-L-A Atlanta, you're going to find me. There aren't a lot of us. I had a fake name for that. So I would ensure that I wasn't going to get chopped up into little pieces.

Russ Thornton:
Smart thinking.

Kyla Lines:
Right, but to really answer your question,, our website is our RB, Richardson Bloom & Line. So rblfamilylaw.com is probably the easiest way to reach me. Then all of our contact information is on that website. If you Google, Kyla, Atlanta, you'll find that website.

Russ Thornton:
Hey, I'm glad that 11 years on, you and your now husband made it work. The fake name was not a deterrent. We'll be sure to share a link to the website, and your LinkedIn profile and things like that. So people want to reach out, learn more, talk. Maybe they know someone that needs to talk to you about this sort of stuff that can reach out and get in touch. So, Kayla, this has been great. I appreciate your time and sharing a little bit about your experience and expertise with us. This has been fun.

Kyla Lines:
Thank you for having me. It has been fun.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. Everyone out there listening, thanks again for joining us. This is Russ with Women's Retirement Radio, and we look forward to catching up with you on our next episode.