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Real estate disputes over church grounds growing heated

Churchgoers in another state are battling against a group of people with whom they used to worship. Some Florida readers may relate to the discordant real estate disputes that so far have remained unresolved even after several court sessions. At stake is a church property comprising more than 31 acres of land.

The problem began when a group of members and leaders from the Presbyterian Church broke away and started their own sect. The split was reportedly caused by differences of opinion regarding church policies on controversial topics, such as homosexuality. The two newly separated congregations continued to hold services in the same church building at different times.

Soon, a disagreement broke out regarding who actually owns the church property. One side says the building and surrounding campus are held in trust. The other side says the trust clause is not included in the deed to the property and is not legally enforceable.

The property is worth millions of dollars, and both sides are asking the court to clarify the law so they can resolve their real estate disputes. A law and religion professor from a prestigious university said it is not the first time in history that congregations and church leaders have argued over such matters. This is the type of case where a Florida real estate law attorney would be a great asset if a similar situation were to occur in this state. An experienced attorney well-versed in property laws would be able to provide sound counsel as to what type of approach may be best to secure a positive outcome in court.

Source: mcall.com, "First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem property dispute could clarify law", Sarah M. Wojcik, Aug. 28, 2017

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