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Karen Stewart, Fairway Divorce

Karen Stewart“It’s a chance to make a difference…

A chance to change the world…”

Fairway Divorce Solutions provides an alternative approach to divorce—a fixed fee, step-by-step independent negotiated resolution process. The Fairway Process™ reduces costs, time, stress, and protects children. U.S. franchises are now available for qualified professionals who want to build a strong business while helping people change the way they approach divorce.

Top New Franchises spoke to Karen Stewart, CEO/Founder of Fairway Divorce Solutions and author of “Clean Break: How to Divorce with Dignity and Move on with Your Life.”

Top New Franchises:  So, Karen, what inspired you to create Fairway Divorce Solutions?

Karen: The Fairway Divorce Solutions concept began after I went through my own grueling divorce. I was determined to create an alternative that enabled couples to separate with a fair division of assets, and with feelings of empowerment and dignity so they could move on with their lives. We developed the Fairway process as an alternative way to the traditional method of divorce – one that’s expensive, stressful and destructive to the children.

Top New Franchises: How widespread is divorce?

Karen: Accurate divorce statistics are hard to come by, but it’s safe to say that somewhere between 35% and 55% of marriages currently end in divorce. In the U.S., it’s estimated that there are more than 2 million divorces per year. Despite the fact that divorce is so commonplace, the process for obtaining a divorce is badly broken.

Top New Franchises: What IS the process most divorcing couples currently go through? How’s it broken?

Karen: There are really two groups. The first are those who each hire their own divorce attorneys and go through the traditional adversarial and costly divorce process. Each attorney is trained that their responsibility is to win for their client. So, from the start the scenario is set for a win-lose, rather than a win-win, outcome. Since these negotiations often involve children, win-lose situations can have very unfortunate consequences. Another problem with this system is that there is no financial incentive for the attorneys to bring a speedy, economical resolution. Divorce attorneys generally require retainers of thousands of dollars from each party and bill at rates of $350 – $500 per hour. While reputable attorneys wouldn’t intentionally prolong the conflict, the fact is that the longer it takes, the more they get paid… and the fewer assets are left to allocate.

Top New Franchises: And the other group?

Karen: The other group consists of couples who do it themselves; who try to forego lawyers fees and create an agreement without professional help. This may be fine in situations where there are few assets and no children involved. For most, though, do-it-yourself divorce is very unwise. First, these individuals are making critical financial and legal decisions not only without proper training, but usually in a highly emotional state of mind. Emotional decisionmaking can result in agreements that won’t be satisfactory long-term. In fact, the validity of do-it-yourself contracts may be legally challenged down the road.

Top New Franchises: How does the Fairway Divorce Solutions process differ?

Karen: Fairway Divorce Solutions offers a fixed-fee, step-by-step negotiated resolution process that is founded on cooperation, not confrontation. Our professional, trained negotiators lead divorcing couples through a well-defined process to achieve a fair and mutually acceptable division of financial assets as well as child custody and visitation. Fairway clients work with their trained negotiator as a team to achieve a mutually agreeable resolution in the least amount of time possible.

Top New Franchises: What professional qualifications are required to be a Fairway franchise owner?

Karen: Operating a Fairway Divorce Solutions business requires significant negotiation, mediation and/or conflict resolution skills. While one does not need to be an attorney or Certified Financial Planner, knowledge of the law, financial planning background or psychology is certainly helpful. Among our current franchisees we have an attorney, a CPA and several MBAs. While our first franchise owners manage their own centers, we would also consider franchisees wanting to hire those with required skills to operate their Fairway centers for them.

Top New Franchises: What personal traits do you value in a franchise owner?

Karen: We are looking for qualified professionals who not only want to build an economically viable businesses, but who also want to create positive change in society and in the lives of their clients. We would like franchisees who truly want to join us in changing the way people see and approach divorce. We want franchisees who have a passion for making a difference, and who will promote our message in their local markets. It also takes a special person to help introduce a completely new concept. They will need to be more of a team player and a bit more flexible, I expect, than with more traditional franchises. Their input and feedback will be highly valued as we grow.

Top New Franchises: What do you see as being the greatest potential reward for Fairway Divorce Solution franchise owners?

Karen: The greatest potential reward for our franchise owners is the same as it is for me: a chance to build a strong business future while positively impacting lives of those around us, especially children’s. It’s a chance to make a difference. A chance to change the world.

Top New Franchises: Thanks for sharing your story.

Karen: Thanks for the opportunity.

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