She wants to separate; I don't; who goes where

Hi. My wife and I have been married for 9 years, together for 11. She announced Monday that she wants a separation and divorce. I don’t want one: I want to try everything else (counseling) first. Facts:

  1. We have two children, 4 and 7, that we both dearly love. They know nothing of these plans yet.
  2. We have a nice house. I have the loan. Both our names are on the deed.
  3. I believe both cars are in my name.
  4. I have been the breadwinner with a low six figures income. She has had various short-term low-paying jobs. If she has made $10K in any year, I’d be surprised.
  5. So far I have been presented with no legal documents. I’ve just heard rumors through my Mom that my wife has a separation agreement, and wants to sell the house.

Bottom line: I don’t want to sign anything, I don’t want to move out, and I don’t want to sell the house. If she simply cannot tolerate living here, then I feel she should take an apartment. The kids will live there primarily and then visit me.

All is confusion and hell. Can she make me sign, move out, and sell?

No, she cannot make you move out out of the marital home. The only way she can ever do that is to be successful in a divorce from bed and board action, but a judge still doesn’t have to order you out of the house. She would have to prove you guilty of a marital fault. If she wants a separation, she can move out and be separated, but she can’t make you leave. Be aware though that since she is the dependent spouse, she is likely to be awarded both post-separation support and alimony. She can file for those and for equitable distribution once she moves out. So, you will need to provide material support after she leaves. In ED, you will likely need to pay her half of any equity in the home before she will sign the deed over to you.