After assets are identified and valued, the final step is to divide the assets. With some exceptions, courts are generally required to equally divide all marital property. This means that everything that the court has deemed to be marital will be split in half and divided equally between the parties.
If assets and liabilities cannot be perfectly divided, the spouse who retains more of the assets may need to buy the other spouse out, usually in the form of a lump sum payment at the time of divorce depending on local state laws and the court ruling.
In situations where the court finds that it would be unfair to equally divide the property, the court has the authority to divide in another manner it would deem equitable. The court may do this if it believes that an equal division is impractical or burdensome, or where financial misconduct has occurred.
In the alternative, assets can be divided pursuant to an agreement between the parties. Spouses can divide assets in any manner which they deem to be fair. Agreement allows for a division that is more flexible and personalized than what a court is likely to do.