Dear Ms. Snark:
"What about a writer requesting split checks is so offensive? It seems like the easy and bankruptcy proof thing to do, but according to an earlier post, you would drop a client like a hot potato if he or she made such a request."
Indeed. First, mostly agents don't go bankrupt. They die. That's the reason you look for someone who is set up as an LLC or a corporation--so the agency can survive the death of the agent.
But, indeed, why not make it simple and just request the publisher send you your check separately right at the start?
First, and from a totally selfish point of view, I won't get any of my expenses paid. Ok, that's not reason enough for you, I can hear you scoffing from here.
Second, it's easier for you to have one payer at the end of the year (ie me) than 50 small ones. Yes, you'll get a check from the publisher. What about all those small ones from the foreign rights sold in Bhutan, Peru, Nigeria, and Rabbitania? All that money comes through my coffers, and you get a 1099 at the end of the year.
Still not good enough? Smaller publishers know you get two checks, and they pay me, and forget you. That's an 85% savings for them for as long as it takes to figure it out.
Still not convinced? Then we're probably not going to agree on a lot of other things as well, and we'd not be a good fit to work together.
Bottom line: this is how I run my biz. It's pretty standard. If you don't agree with it, no worries, mate, but also, see you later WallyGator.