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Civil Practice – Rule 60 Motion – Subject Matter Jurisdiction – Passports – Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Custody

Civil Practice – Rule 60 Motion – Subject Matter Jurisdiction – Passports – Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Custody

Defendant failed to appeal a child custody order that required him to surrender his U.S. and Polish passports to the clerk of court. Although defendant’s motion for relief under N.C. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(4) argued that the trial court lacked the authority to impose such a requirement, defendant does not appear to dispute that the trial court in fact had jurisdiction over the parties and subject matter, or that the court was authorized to enter a custody order. Because the custody order was not void as a matter of law, defendant was not entitled to relief under Rule 60(b)(4).

We affirm the trial court’s denial of defendant’s Rule 60 motion. We dismiss defendant’s appeal of the trial court’s stay order.

Before the trial court ruled on his Rule 60 motion, defendant sought the release of his passports pursuant to the terms of the contested custody order provision, asserting that he intended to travel to Poland. Defendant appealed the trial court’s denial of his Rule 60 motion while his application for his passport was still pending. The trial court stayed defendant’s passport application while his appeal of the Rule 60 order was pending.

Although defendant makes passing references to his “constitutional right to [international] travel,” he does not make an argument that this right will clearly be lost or irremediably adversely affected if the order is not reviewed before final judgment. Because defendant has failed to show why or how the trial court’s interlocutory stay order will work an injury to him if not corrected before an appeal from the final determination, we dismiss defendant’s appeal from the stay order.

Affirmed in part; dismissed in part.


(Murphy, J.) While our courts may not exercise jurisdiction over the property of a foreign sovereign nation unless authorized by Congress or international agreement, defendant has not presented any argument based on the record or international law as to ownership of the passport by the Republic of Poland and has not included the passport or a copy thereof in the record for our independent review. Based on the limited record before us, I would decline to upset the ruling of the trial court on this record.

Grodner v. Grodner (Lawyers Weekly No. 012-107-18, 25 pp.) (Linda McGee, C.J.) (Hunter Murphy, J., concurring in part and concurring in the result only in part as to the Rule 60 motion and concurring as to the stay order) Appealed from Pitt County District Court (G. Galen Braddy, J.) Jeffrey Miller for plaintiff; Andrzej Grodner, pro se. N.C. App. Unpub.


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