Should I move out of the marital residence during a pending divorce?"
This is a common question I receive from divorce clients. The answer is generally no, especially if there are minor children involved. The reason is simple: moving out of the residence while leaving the kids with your spouse effectively makes your spouse the primary parent. This can make it look as though primary custody has been conceded to the other spouse. Thus, if you anticipate that custody of the children will be a disputed issue, it is best to remain in the residence.
The other potential problem is financial. If you leave, who will be responsible for paying the mortgage, utilities, etc.? A decision to move creates another household to support with the resulting, additional expenses. These issues obviously need to be taken into consideration.
There are, of course, exceptions. Sometimes the situation at home can become so intolerable that moving out is the only option. This is particularly true in volatile situations or when it is just plain bad for the kids. However, even under these circumstances it is best to move out ONLY as part of an overall agreement. For example, you would want to ensure that issues such as custody, visitation, and finances are addressed before you decide to move out.
Because it is such an important decision with potential consequences, it is best to discuss your specific situation with an experienced family law attorney before deciding to move out.