Q. My wife is an alcoholic. She was in recovery for 8 years since our daughters were toddlers but began drinking again a year ago. I have managed to keep it from our kids, but have not convinced her to get help. Our girls are going to sleep away camp for two weeks. I plan to give my wife an ultimatum. Either she goes to rehab, or I file for divorce and she moves out. Either way, I want her gone by the time the kids get back. I am done cleaning up and keeping her secret.
If she won’t go to rehab, how do I get her out of the house before the kids come back?
A. While it is entirely understandable that you are fed up with the situation and done cleaning up and keeping secrets, take a step back and think about how your kids will feel when they return from camp to find you have kicked mom out of the house – especially where you say you have kept her secret from them for the last year. Or do you plan to tell them that she up and left you all? Either way, they will not understand why she disappeared. I am not saying don’t do something about the situation, but I am saying you need to make sure you have supports in place for your girls and that you are prepared to be honest with them that their mom is sick. Line up a therapist to see them through this before they get back from camp.
You also need a plan B. If she refuses to go to rehab, you will not get her out of the house before the kids come home. The courts are still very backlogged from the last year of shutdowns. You need to file a complaint for divorce and will be lucky to get a summons issued by the time they get back from camp. Once you have a summons you can file a motion to vacate asking for sole use and occupancy of the house and serve your wife with both. It is hard to know how far out the hearing will be on your motion – every judge’s schedule is different. Given that this has been going on for a year, it is not likely to be seen as an emergency.
If you have to file the motion to vacate, you need to prepare an affidavit stating in detail your wife’s behavior, the efforts you have made to keep your wife’s drinking from your children, the efforts you have made to get her help and how her drinking is impacting you emotionally and physically. But, the standard for removal isn’t just how this is impacting you – the court will look at the best interest of your children – if there is no real impact on them because of your herculean efforts, that may work against you.
Bottom line, use all of your powers of persuasion to get her to rehab.