Saturday, April 08, 2006

"A trouble shared is a trouble doubled"

The quote above was sent to me in a comment by RobotJam. He was referencing my post of a few days ago about a couple of lessons I learned this week.

That post seemed to resonate with a lot of my wonderful readers. I get a number of direct emails in addition to the comments that all can see. In fact, there was so much interest that I feel I need to make a few more points that I left out of the original post in the interest of brevity.

(Yes, I understand the appeal of brevity, even though some of my posts can be wordy as heck.)

(Is heck wordy? One wonders.)

As several of you pointed out, he really needs legal advice. Early in our conversation I asked him if he had consulted with a lawyer. He was non-committal. So later (about an hour into it) I suggested that he talk to a lawyer right away!

He had just told me about one retail store account that his wife had opened, and that had now been turned over to a collection agency for non-payment. The agency was dunning her (of course), but had also called him at home. He asked them if, should he pay off the balance for her, he could then close the account to prevent it from starting all over again. He was told no. The account was not in his name, so he could not close it.

He asked them, “If it’s not in my name, why should I pay for any of the charges?” They told him that as her husband, he can be held legally liable for (at least part of) her debts.

And though I’m NOT a lawyer, my understanding is that in Texas that is true. We are what is called a “community property” state, and generally, barring a contract (like a pre-nuptial agreement) to the contrary, all property and debts are deemed to belong jointly to both parties in a marriage. Even if they are separated!

I’ve also heard that there are ways to limit one’s liability. But yes, my employee needs to speak to a lawyer about this post haste!

Some of you also pointed out the damage this whole episode is doing to their four children. Very true. He told me of the oldest boy’s straight A grades last year, while this year he is failing two (high school) subjects. According to my employee, the wife seems unconcerned about this. (Again, I’m only hearing ONE SIDE of a complex situation.) He thinks she has compulsive spending problems, similar to an addiction to drugs, alcohol or gambling. Maybe so.

In any case, be assured that I DID recommend strongly to him to seek legal advice ASAP before she wipes out all of his retirement savings and the accounts he has for the boys’ college. Assuming they can get INTO college if their grades continue to suffer from their parents’ split.

What a mess!

Anyway, many of YOU have also taken on this family’s troubles as I did, doubling them many times over.

I have big-hearted readers.

(Oh, and Rob? I WOULD paint my house green if the mildew were all green, but some of it is black and various shares of dirty gray. Maybe the “camouflage” look is what I need.)


Anonymous said...

Camo is good!

And yes.. Texas is a community property state..And he can be held liable for half her debt.. A lawyer is indeed in hsi best interest.. :)

Candace said...

It's time to call in Dr. Phil!

Anonymous said...

that's a good quote! and candace is right also!

In my new job, I was hired as controller, as I am a cpa and accounting is my 'thing'. I'm an accountant - a bean counter. But since the company is small (39 ees) they have no hr dept and I got to take over that as well. I like it - setting policy, designing forms, helping out with reviews, ect. EXCEPT when we had trouble with a disgruntled ee. Well, anyway she ended up quitting and we'll see if a lawsuit follows, but it was a time-sucker of the greatest magnitude. I'm working on an acctg. deadline and the last thing I needed was all of this trauma and meetings and emails and discussions that over the past 1 1/2 weeks probably took about 40 hrs of my time. And other people's time as well. in our case trouble shared was trouble quadrupled or even more!

I DO NOT like that part of the job.

Emmy Ellis said...

Have I found you again at last? No, I'm not a nutter though you may think so if what I am about to say doesn't make sense.

My cousin kind of messed up my PC and I lost all my favourites and my saved emails on AOL.

One of those emails contained a cookie recipe.

Please tell me it was you who gave it to me!

I want to make and eat those cookies so badly as I want to do an 'American dinner' with Faith-Bicknell Brown's sausage gravy and biscuits, and those peanut cookies.

Put me out of my misery! Please!

Disclaimer: Please disregard anything I have said if you have no idea what I am talking about. I am not mental, just recipe hunting...


Anonymous said...

I WOULD paint my house green if the mildew were all green, but some of it is black and various shares of dirty gray.

Clearly, John, you need to spend some time watching Home & Garden channel!!! You can do wonders sponging layers of color. You know, gray house, with some green & black smudging over top :-D

(Tell you what, if you do that, I'll paint my house to my daughter's specification. She'd like it done as a rainbow.)

Anonymous said...


I've done some research and you can actually buy camoflage paint in tins.

That would save you some time. They even do a spray on version.

Anonymous said...

Very few couples get married in community of property here because we have a choice but I do know of people who are in a similar situation. It is very stressful.

Have a happy week John.