(...) The purpose of it is to solicit advice on how to break apart a marriage without blowing the individuals in the family (spouses and kids), out of the water.
For the purposes of this thread, please assume that the writer has already made the decision to end the marriage as it currently exists today.
So as many of you know, husband is not working and has no income. Wife could probably make ends meet on current jobs (FT and PT), and is willing to move to a less expensive living situation (without husband).
I am not sure if it's best to: a) dump his stuff at the curb and change the locks. b) try to work out an equitable but non-legally binding (i.e., no lawyers to pay!) arrangement for the interim c)wait it out 'til 2012 when I will have finished grad school and kid #2 will have finished high school and kid #3 will only be in 6th grade so I can really pick up and move anywhere or d) some other permutation or combination I haven't discovered.
Getting back to your original question:
KIDS: kids are suffering with the sitch as it is now, and it's only getting worse. D isn't good for kids, but sometimes it's better than the alternative.
YOU: You can take care of yourself and your kids. Whatever you choose, make sure it doesn't undermine your well being. You will be fine on your own, no matter how you end it.
HIM: There's no way to do this without causing him pain. Period, end of discussion. If that's your motivation, understand that it's not an option. *He* is not going to decide to leave you. You are the "leaver", he's going to suffer.
As to the options you proposed, I'm going to address them out of order.
c) No way. Asking you to continue bailing water out of this sinking life raft without a shred of support from him either financially or domestically is insane, and that's where you'll end up if you try to play this for 2 more years.
b) No legal papers means he can still ruin you. He can run up debt that you will be responsible for, and there's probably no legal way you can throw him out if he digs his heels in without a legal separation (if they're an option in your state) or D. You're putting your life in his hands if you do this.
a) Probably the best way to handle it, but you can't enforce it without filing some legal papers.
Here's what I would do:
Tell him you're filing for D, and will be asking that the temporary orders include one for him to vacate the home. That he has about 30 days to figure out what he's going to do. Then go file. You can act pro se, at least for the initial filing, if you can't afford an attorney. The documents should be available at your local library or the County Clerk's office. With the kids the age they are, and no property to speak of (you did say there's really no equity in the home, right) there really shouldn't be a reason to take it to court. You should be able to find an attorney who will review the final papers to ensure that the house deed, etc. is transferred properly for an hourly fee.
Bottom line, you need to do 2 things:
1) Figure out why you're staying. If you still love him, and still want to make the M work, then throw all in. If you don't, and you're staying because of guilt over the fact he can't support himself -- BTDT. He's an adult and needs to figure out how to take care of himself, you're NOT his mommy.
2) Figure out what to do about the finances - what would you do if he weren't in the equation? You've said you could live within your means in a smaller place, right? Then **do** it. He's abrogated his part in making the decisions by refusing to discuss it, and refusing to help financially. The kids may have to bunk up, and you may or may not end up taking him with, but you have got to plug the financial hole in your boat.