My wife has basically abandoned our relationship after 26 years claiming that I have been verbally abusing her. She has moved in with a friend where she now sleeps.
She comes when I’m not here to do laundry for the kids and herself. We no longer share the monthly bills. I need to keep the house and the kids fed and safe.
What are my options to keep her away from house and kids?
Your question does not indicate any violence on her part, such that a restraining order would not be warranted. Keeping her away from the home is a different consideration than her involvement with the children.
Assuming you own your home, she has a marital interest of some degree and probably entitled to enter the home as she wishes. If you are renting the home, you may be able to revise the lease to remove her from any right to enter the landlord’s property, but that is a complex real estate law issue beyond the scope of the DadsDivorce Ask a Lawyer.
The most effective method of addressing the house and children issues is through family law court proceedings, whether a legal separation, divorce, or other proceedings available in your state.
As your wife has moved out, it appears she has established that she does not require the home as her residence and the court should grant you possession of the home while the court case is pending. Of course, she may now argue that you “forced” her out of the home, by your attitude or lack of attention to her, and that she wants to return to the home, such that you can not assume the issue will not be contested. The allocation of the bills for the house during the court proceedings will depend upon who is living in the house and the financial abilities of the parties, as the cost of the house remains a marital obligation during the proceedings. As to whether you keep the home in the divorce, that is a property division issue that will depend upon the total marital estate available for division and your ability to assume the debt on the home.
Your wife’s time with the children will be determined as part of the custody aspect of your case. If there are serious issues with her behavior or treatment of the children, the court may appoint an attorney or other professional to represent your children and advocate for their best interests. If the issues are more towards the disruption of routines and friction between you and her, the court may be able to resolve the matter without involvement of outside professionals. However, absent endangerment of the children, both parents should be afforded as much time with the children as is reasonable in light of the schedules and needs of the parents and of the children.