For those who attend church, you have probably noted how people seem to sit in the same pew every week.
You have a legal right to that seat. No kidding. (You can’t make this kind of stuff up.)
Montana Code Annotated section 70-17-101 defines all the things that can be protected by an easement. The usual things are in there: a right-of-way or conservation easement, etc.
But so is “the right of a seat in church.” It’s subsection 16 of MCA 70-17-101 in case you think I’m making it up.
There must have been someone who felt a need to have his or her particular seat in church protected by law – and he or she must have known a legislator who would sponsor a bill to protect it. There’s always a story behind a piece of legislation.
Can one obtain a church-seat easement through adverse possession after occupying that seat for five years like other rights to land? One of the requirements of adverse possession is that the occupation is without the permission of the owner. But in a church-seat situation, presumably the church is permitting the person to sit in a particular seat. (This is what occupies the thoughts of attorneys.)
The question is: How many church goers would file a lawsuit to obtain their legal right to a particular seat in church? In Christian churches such a suit would seem to go against 1 Corinthians 6:1, which advises church goers to settle their internal disputes within the church instead of using the legal system.
Just because a legal right exists doesn’t mean it’s always a good idea to invoke it.
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