(a) Initial Assessment

(b) County Information

(c) Statutes

(d) Cases

(e) Civil Rules

(f) Evidence Rules



FAQ – Treatment Level – Basic


What are Boundary Disputes? – Boundary disputes are disagreements between neighbors with adjoining or proximate properties. If you want an overall scope of this subject, please view my blog post here.

When Do Land Fights Occur? – The genesis of a land fight often predates the owner of land who seeks to prosecute it. For one reason or another a survey is performed that indicates potential encroachments and its determined, likely without adequate forethought, to fight. To find out more, please check out my blog post here.

Why is my Neighbor Doing this to Me? – The answer to this question often involves two factors. First, your neighbors believe that they have a superior position. Second, projecting – as opposed to protecting – their boundary is what I call “an external manifestation of an internal problem.” For a fuller explanation, please check out my blog post here.

What is a Boundary Dispute Attorney’s Job? – The job of a boundary dispute attorney is like that of other attorneys. However, because boundary disputes are almost by their very definition irrational, the basics, which you can find here, are just the start of an overall case evaluation and strategy.

What Types of Costs are Involved in Resolving a Boundary Dispute? – Proceedng straight to litigation is almost certainly going to be a Lose/Lose proposition. Instead, consider the “Three Multitudes of Ten Times Five” approach of Justice Smiles here.

Adverse Possession – What is it? – This is the primary doctrine used to resolve boundary disputes. And while it is considered by some to be “legalized land theft,” it is a body of law, that while hard to prove and disprove, provides legal resolution to one of the most emotional arenas of law. To find out more about its basic contours, please click here.

Mutual Recognition & Acquiescence – What is it? – This is a corollary doctrine of adverse possession which focuses upon the use up to a specific boundary line by those on both sides of it. However, because it has a higher burden of proof, at this time it is of little use. For more, please click here.

Parol Agreement – What is it? – Your neighbor and you decided upon a line, but failed to go through that extra step of surveying and recording it with any other terms and conditions of your “oral agreement.” Well, all is not lost, but this “he said/she said” attempt to determine the boundary isn’t cheap? Find out more about it here.

Estoppel in Pais – What is it? – This is a claim in equity – not law – in which it is claimed that to fail to allow that which was relied upon would create injustice. To find out more, including my negative take on this doctrine, please click here.

Laches – What is it? – An equitable doctrine which in my humble opinion has absolutely no place in boundary dispute matters. However, this doctrine is thrown into claims by thoughtless attorney’s all the time. A full measure of my disdain and explanation for it can be found here.

Common Grantor – What is it? – This doctrine is applied in subdivision contexts when someone goofs up the representation of the boundary on the ground as opposed to its representation in the recorders office. You can learn more about Common Grantor here.


justice-smiles-gold-large.pngFAQ – Treatment Level – Gold


What Should I Know About My Neighbor in a Land Fight? – Until July 1, 2012, when the new adverse possession law becomes effective, boundary line disputes will remain more about “realpolitik” than justice. In this post, I indicate the questions that you should be contemplating about your neighbor before you engage them in a boundary dispute here.

Is Adverse Possession Fundamentally Wrong? – No, but until Washington State’s new adverse possession law takes effect on July 1, 2012, it will remain “fundamentally flawed“. The reason for this is because currently adverse possession allows the premeditated taking of land from a neighbor. In this post, I explain why adverse possession is in the main a good doctrine. I then provide the two most important questions which must be asked to make the doctrine fully just. Find out more here.

Is Adverse Possession Litigation worth the Horror? – My take is that it generally isn’t. That’s why if there is an issue, it is always best to attempt to amicably work it out with your neighbor first. If not, you are in for a “death-spiral” which I have attempted to depict in this blog post here.

Are Some Surveys More Accurate than Others? – Yes, not only does this depend on whether your surveyor has “been around the block” a few times, but it depends on whether other surveyors have as well. In this post, I also seek to separate the confusion between precision and accuracy. You will find it here.

What is the New Adverse Possession Law and What does it Mean for You? – Want a recap of what language went in, out, and finally stuck to Washington’s 2011 adverse possession bill on its way to becoming new law? More importantly, how will this new law effect you – a potential boundary line disputant? For a post that spells all this out without trying to make you a lawyer, please click here.


justice-smiles-red-large.pngFAQ – Treatment Level – High


Good Faith Element v. Clear, Cogent, and Convincing Evidence – Lawyers and others with a significant interest in Adverse Possession will find my take on the benefits and detriments of these two (separate) approaches here.

Good Faith: Then & (Hopefully) Now – In this blog post, I take a look at Professor Emeritus William B. Stoebuck’s first law review article, which he published as a newly minted attorney. Was his argument compelling, or was it his name, when he subsequently assisted in changing the law by arguing for the result of Chaplin v. Sanders. Find out some of my thoughts on the matter here.

Scrap Good Faith & Focus on Physical Boundary Line Manipulation – Perhaps my “Good Faith Attack on Land Thieves” [a January Bar News Article] is not the absolute best approach. Given the fact that the Supreme Court of Washington has determined and repeatedly upheld its position that we shall not look into the mind of the adverse possessor, what is the best way to stop people from taking their neighbor’s land. This post offers my nascent thoughts on what I believe to be the most sound alternative here.

Congratulations Washington State! Adverse Possession Bill is New Law – I testified, lobbied, and followed the progress of HB 1026 over its entire course. In this post I recap the law, indicate why I like it, focus on a few areas where some changes might occur down the line, and pass credit to most of the key players who made the bill new law here.

What Counties Do Justice Smiles Serve? Justice Smiles has served clients in King, Snohomish, Pierce, and Kitsap Counties. Special arrangements may be available for counties beyond this geographical footprint.