Do you scope out the world view of your prospect’s non filing spouse?
I didn’t and I’m sorry. The client was full of guilt about the financial situation and kept insisting at our first meeting that “no one should be hurt but him” as a result of the financial predicament leading to bankruptcy. That situation included back taxes on a joint return.
Now the non filing wife is spitting mad because she thinks that she was “promised” that the bankruptcy case would have “absolutely no impact” on her. And she’s concocted some reason that she thinks has/will/might adversely affect her. The client of course claims it (whatever it is) is all my fault.
Somehow the wife has lost track of the fact that the family owes a fistful of money, including at least two years of back taxes. But, in her mind, none of the perceived trouble is the result of the debts, but is traceable to the bankruptcy.
Maybe I should have seen the client’s initial desire to take all the responsibility for the situation on himself as not guilt, but fear of the irrational spouse.
It’s hard to figure out how to manage the situation when I believe much of the wife’s fears are irrational and unfounded. Some of the consequences here may be unavoidable. But it’s uncomfortable being caught between the two spouses.
Add “reasonable expectations of the non filing spouse” to your checklist of essential client characteristics.