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Do I Have to Use Black or Dark Blue Ink for Documents to Be Legal? And More Free Legal Q&A – Free Joe 2/15/13

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On Tuesdays and Fridays, attorney Joe Escalante answers legal questions for free on the LegalZoom Facebook Page. Did you miss the last Free Joe? Don’t worry. We’ve got it all right here.

Margaret: My company color is blue but a turquoise shade of blue. Is this ink color acceptable or do I need a dark blue for contracts and other legal documents?

Joe Escalante: I would use whatever color you want until someone complains.

Jennifer: I have been separated from my husband for over three years now. I plan to file for divorce and, in the past, we both agreed to a divorce. Child custody and support had already been established and we have no liquid assets to divide. Yet my problem is I have no idea where he currently resides. Due to a domestic situation regarding or son a PFA was issued and we are awaiting court. Can I still file and be divorced without a viable stress for them to send the forms to be signed??

Joe Escalante: The normal procedure for someone in your situation would be to get the proceedings started in the county court where you live. The court will require only that your husband is legally notified of the proceedings. If he’s hiding, that can be dealt with and if he never shows up, there will be a default divorce and support order judgment entered against him. He doesn’t need to show up.
Then you just have to find him if you want the support payments.
Read this book:

Kim: Here’s a question: Once a provisional patent is filed, when it comes time to file a non-provisional, can anything be changed (i.e. an update on the drawing)? I am looking to get a provisional to get my idea protected, but down the line, I want to make sure an attorney will be able to better protect my idea. Also, is there an easier place to search current patents than the USPTO? Quite honestly, it’s a tad confusing. Thanks!

Joe Escalante: Nothing will be as thorough as the USPTO’s office. If you want to get into this business, you either have to figure it out or get an attorney now. Eventually you will need an attorney to file the actual patent, so I would consult with one now to save you a lot of pain and possible wasted time in the future.
The USPTO wont accept updates to a submission, so if you want to update your filing, you need to file a new provisional patent application.

You could submit these updates in the actual patent filing itself, later. However, if you forgot to include something critical about your invention, you’ll need a new provisional patent application to fully protect your invention.

Joseph: What is process to alter ownership, and to add partners to an llc?

Joe Escalante: This varies by state, and depends on what you’ve written in your operating agreement. A great summary of what to do can be found here on

Eric: Joe, what is considered tax fraud?

Joe Escalante: Tax fraud could include many things involving misrepresentation of your financial activities and records to the U.S. Government for the purpose of depriving them of money. For more on this, ask Gary the tax expert here on Thursdays.

LegalZoom: Details for Ask the Tax Pro:

Crystal: for the pass ten years my friend has taking care of a child what should he do to become his father

Joe Escalante: He should start formal adoption proceedings with the family law court in the county where they live. The parental rights of the actual father may have to be legally terminated first, the that man is alive.

Adolfo: Good Morning Joe Escalante, what is the best way to open a business and protect your assets at the same time?

Joe Escalante: The best way is to get a tax pro on board, and get liability insurance. At the very least you’re going to need a DBA to open a bank account, so you should get that underway pretty soon. Read up on it here:

Barb: Can “sole & separate” property remain that if property is put into an llc or incorporated or does that take that property into the marriage?

Joe Escalante: Co-mingling of assets can destroy the separate nature of the assets so it sounds like you are playing with fire here. Talk to a divorce attorney in your area to see how the courts handle this kind of stuff in your state.

Ruth: hello i live in CT when is the right time to publish your business name I am in the process of starting a small business

Joe Escalante: Different jurisdictions require different procedures for granting and publishing a fictitious business name. The time to do this is when you need a bank account, usually. The bank will require a completed process so you can start accepting checks paid out to your company’s name.

Bart: Hello Joe. My wife and I have our Trust, wills, etc., prepared by LegalZoom. Our question: how do we ensure that money/property we leave upon death is kept within our bloodline? We want it to go to our children, their children, and down the blood line. We do not want it to go to anyone whom our children, their children, etc., should marry.

Joe Escalante: This is the kind of control from beyond the grave that would require an elaborate trust and tens of thousands of dollars in attorney fees. If you really want to do this, you need a fancy estate planning lawyer.

Sybil: I Want To Do A Name Change…. Whats The Process?

Joe Escalante: Check out the legal zoom stuff on this. Or you can go to the county court house and try it yourself. It’s hard if you’ve never done it before. It’s easy if you let legalzoom help you. However, it can be done on your own. But hiring a lawyer might be be overkill.
It involves filling out forms, providing information as to why, publishing the hearing date, showing up at the hearing. Good luck.

LegalZoom: Here’s the link, Sybil:

Kateri: I am having problems paying over 700.00 paying all of this child support for my husband..aren’t they allowed to only take so much from us??

Joe Escalante: You can always file a petition in the court to modify the support order, based on a change of circumstances. This could include someone making more money now, or less.

Terry: If my roommate stole all of my furniture and personal belongings, assaulted me, fractured my wrist, used my credit cards without my consent moved back in with his ex wife and both moved to Michigan, since she knows where my belongings are, how is she and he not held liable for theft?

Joe Escalante: That is called conversion, it’s illegal, your instincts are correct, but it may be hard to prove. Roommates tend to say things like “no, that was my crap” when they are confronted with activity like this.
To soften the blow, here’s a kick ass remix of “My Roommate” by The Village people.

Rachelle: I have a child support and visitation agreement that was written in Indiana 9 years ago. If I wanted to get it changed, how could I start?

Joe Escalante: You go to the court where it was filed and file a petition to modify the support order. Start by attempting to contact the clerk over there in the family law court.

Janet: Residing in Ny, have property in Puerto Rico, would a Will written out in legal Zoom be valid in Puerto Rico?

Joe Escalante: You live in N.Y., you should have a N.Y. will. The question is whether your property in P.R. will be handed over to your heirs when the executor of your estate delivers to the registrar of property in P.R. a “Final Order of Distribution” to allow the registrar to change the title from your name to your heir’s name.
Will they do that? Probably, but I don’t know what they really require. If it was Cuba or even Mexico, they might say, “no, the government will take that property now.”
But P.R. is so much like a state, I can’t see it being much of a problem. But there are lawyers that specialize in this kind of stuff. It would be good to talk to one in N.Y. to be sure.

Jeremiah: Joe, in today’s economy what’s the BEST business formation for millenials with modest capital but sound, marketable ideas?

Joe Escalante: Most people go with LLCs these days, but only your tax professional can really tell you what’s right for your situation.

Jeremiah: Thanks Joe! Any recommendations?

Joe Escalante: Not in New Jersey. Ask the Situation.

Jonny: I am working on a non-fiction book in which many of the people I mention are alive and well, but some of these may be difficult to contact from which to obtain a signed release. In such cases, will a simple name change suffice, even if events I describe in the book make it perfectly clear who the person is about which I’m speaking? As an example, if I use “ex-wife” instead of her name, along with MY real name, is that enough to avoid legal complications?

Joe Escalante: If you make a lot of money from this, there will be legal complications no matter what you do. As far as the law goes, as long as what you’re saying is true, you are protected from a defamation claim.
You can minimize purported damages by changing names but in most cases you don’t legally have to.
Then there’s the issue of what a paranoid publisher might desire, which often has nothing to do with what the law is.
You are dealing with your life story here. You have a first amendment right to tell your story. If real names are involved in your life story, that’s protected speech. You can even recount private conversations you had with these people, as long as you were one of the parties.
None of this will prevent a disgruntled subject from going after you, however, but it doesn’t mean they will prevail.

Denise: My aunt has two life insurances, her beneficiary has died and she did not name another.
I waiting for the forms to change this
My question is : does this change form need to be notorised?

Joe Escalante: That depends on what the insurance company demands. It’s not a legal issue really.

Alisha: Joe, I have visitations to my children but have not seen or heard from them in 3 years because my ex refuses to my visitations. I have taken this to court in the past but I did not have enough evidence to support my claim and lost my case. What steps can I take at this point to get full custody of my chidren. Thanks

Joe Escalante: If you didn’t have enough evidence to even establish that your visitation rights were being violated, getting full custody is going to be tough without an aggressive family law attorney on your side.
You can always petition the court to modify the custody order and tell your story to the judge, but you need to get written evidence that you are being denied visits. I don’t know if it’s legal in your state to record your confrontations with your ex, but video might be good evidence. Check with a family law attorney in your area. Good luck.

Steffani: If someone is not on a child birth certificate. Do you still have to pay child support??

Joe Escalante: You have to pay child support if it can be established that you are the parent. The birth certificate would just be one piece of evidence.

Lettie: if i gave my mother n law temporary custody of my children while i was n treatment ,n incarcareted, what rights to i have as there mother n only living parent???

Joe Escalante: You will always have a right to custody of your kids unless you voluntarily terminate them, or the court removes them.

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February 19th, 2013 at 5:01 pm