Joseph G. Bertroche, Jr.

Sullivan & Ward, P.C.

(515) 244-3500

Mr. Bertroche was born in Ottumwa, Iowa and raised in the Des Moines area. He graduated from Luther College with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Political Science in 1979 and from Drake University Law School in 1982. Following graduation from law school Mr. Bertroche practiced law in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for over 36 years having a wide variety of cases involving a complexity of issues. He has a general practice including, but not limited to business and commercial law, debt and bankruptcy, real estate, probate, estate planning and family law.

Mr. Bertroche is a mediator, collaborative law lawyer and a parenting coordinator and finds a great deal of satisfaction helping people through difficult situations.

Family Law

Traditionally, in Divorce or Custody cases, an attorney represents the client from the start of a case through its conclusion.  This would include the filing of a Petition, or Answer, attendance of hearings, completion of all the necessary paper work needed, trial (if necessary), and a Final Decree.  The total amount of attorney fees vary widely, depending on the complexities of the case and the level of acrimony.  Make no mistake, ligation divorce and custody cases can be expensive and even cost prohibitive.  There are cases and matters where you need full representation, however, there are times that you don’t.

Mr. Bertroche also provides limited scope of unbundled services.  When lawyers provide limited scope legal services, the client hires them to perform a specific task or to represent them for only a limited matter instead of the entire legal case.  This service offers clients a middle ground between not using an attorney at all, or for full representation.  The client has control as to what he or she needs or wants for legal services.  Mr. Bertroche can offer limited scope representation services in the area of family law, including but not limited to:

 Flat Fee Services

  • evaluating the client’s case;
  • advising a client about legal rights and responsibilities;
  • advising clients about court procedures;
  • advising clients about other dispute resolution options, such as mediation and collaborative law;
  • making recommendations as to documents that need to be prepared in order to conclude a client’s divorce and/or custody matter;
  • reviewing documents;
  • drafting documents, including the following:
    • Petition and Original Notice;
    • Answer to Petition;
    • Child Support Guideline worksheet;
    • Affidavit of Financial Status;
    • Applications for Hearings on Temporary Matters and Proposed Orders Setting Hearings;
    • Preparation of Affidavits regarding Temporary Matters;
    • Drafting of Stipulation.
  • evaluating settlement options, planning for negotiations, providing standby telephone assistance during negations, preparing for court appearances;
  • directing clients to resources;
  • organizing discovery material;

Mr. Bertroche also provides hourly rate services for assistance on other matters, including but not limited to:

  • collaborative divorce, mediation representation, needed attorney work;
  • parenting plan assistance;
  • negotiation / mediation coach.

Custody/Divorce Rules

  1. Do not talk badly about the other parent.
  2. Do not talk badly about the other parent’s friends or relatives.
  3. Do not talk about the court proceedings.
  4. Do not talk about money or child support.
  5. Do not make the child feel bad when they spend time with the other parent.
  6. Do not block visitation or prevent the child from speaking to the other parent.
  7. Do not interrupt visitation time by calling too much or having activities planned during visitation time.
  8. Do not argue in front of the child(ren), or on the phone where the child(ren) can overhear your conversation.
  9. Do not ask the child(ren) to spy for you when they are at the other parent’s house.
  10. Do not ask the child(ren) to keep secrets from the other parent.
  11. Do not ask the child(ren) questions about the other parent’s life, or about the time spent together.
  12. Do not give the child(ren) verbal messages to deliver to the other parent.
  13. Do not give the child(ren) written messages to deliver to the other parent, or on their bag.
  14. Do not blame the other parent for the divorce or for things that are going wrong in your life.
  15. Do not treat the child(ren) like adults, it’s too stressful for them.
  16. Do not ignore the other parent or sit on the opposite side of the room during sporting events or school activities.
  17. Do allow the child(ren) to take items to the other parent’s house.
  18. Do not use guilt to pressure the child(ren) to love you more or ask the child(ren) where they want to live.
  19. Do realize that the child(ren) has two homes, not just one.
  20. Do allow the child(ren) to love both parents as much as possible, be flexible even when it is not part of your regular schedule.

“The greatest gift you can give your child is to allow them to love the other parent unconditionally”- Judge Mitchell Turner, comments to divorcing or separating parents.

Resources for Parents who are Separating or Divorcing

Mom’s House, Dad’s House by Isolina Ricci

Mom’s House, Dad’s House for Kids by Isolina Ricci

Helping your Kids Cope with Divorce by M. Gary Neuman

Creating Effective Parenting Plans by Brenda Payne and John Hartson

Families Apart: Ten Keys to Successful Co-Parenting by Melinda Blau

What about the Children by Jack Arbuthnot and Don Gordon

Parents R Forever by Susan Boyan and Ann Marie Termini

Ten Ways of Dealing with People Who Make Your Life Miserable by Lillian Glass

Co-Parenting after Divorce; A Handbook for Clients, by the ABA Family Law Section

Iowa Family Violence Hotline 1-800-942-0333