Whether or not a spouse should move out of the house depends mostly on the individual circumstances of the situation. However, one important thing to know in making this decision is that the person who moves out of the house does not forfeit his or her ownership interest in the house or furnishings and personal items contained in the house. He or she will still have the right to include the equity value of the residence in the division of the property. (Consider videotaping the contents before you move out!)
Moving out will definitely make it more difficult to get a judge to allow the spouse to move back in. (Have you ever heard the saying, “possession is 9/10ths of the law”?) If there are children to be considered, a judge will weigh heavily awarding the possession of the house to the parent with primary conservatorship of the children while the divorce is pending. Which spouse can afford the house may be a factor at the end of the case in the final award, but will likely not be a factor at the beginning of the divorce proceedings.
Another important factor in deciding whether to move out of the house is whether there have been or might be allegations of physical violence between the spouses while they are unhappily living together. False allegations happen and can be prevented by getting physically separated, even if one spouse has to move out of the house.