Ask the County Law Librarian – Fence Dispute & Alternatives to Court
Q. There is a boundary fence between me and my neighbor’s side yard. It is leaning and I have propped it up for the last time. I have gotten two estimates from reputable fencing companies. My neighbor is refusing to pay half to replace it. I don’t want to go to court. What else can I do?
A. More people are like you wanting to avoid going to court and solving matters using alternative dispute resolution. Using alternative dispute resolution can save you time because it is easier and quicker to write up an agreement than it is to go to court. It can save you money on attorney’s fees, court costs and other expenses. It also gives you more control over the case and the outcome since you are actively creating a workable solution.
You may want to consider mediation. Mediation is a voluntary process in which two or more parties involved in a dispute work with an impartial party, the mediator, to generate their own solutions in settling their conflict.
The mediator’s role is to facilitate communication between the parties, not to impose solutions. Mediators do not advise, take sides or render a judgment. Instead, the mediator will work with all the parties to help them reach a mutually acceptable resolution.
Private mediators are listed in the yellow pages. Also some lawyers advertise in their phone book listing as providing mediation services. In Sacramento there is the non-profit that provides mediation services: Sacramento Mediation Center a program of California Lawyers for the Arts. http://sacmediation.org/.
As a first step, Chapter 11 of the 7th edition of Neighbor Law: Fences, Trees, Boundaries & Noise by www.nolo.com has detailed information about state and local laws regarding fences. It also has a section on Responsibility for Maintenance.
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