War of the McGreeveys continues

February 15, 2008 2:20:15 PM PST
A judge on Friday denied a request by New Jersey's gay former governor to hire child custody experts in his bid for shared custody of his 6-year-old with his estranged wife. Jim McGreevey sought the evaluations of two experts to bolster his claim for joint custody of daughter Jacqueline. His estranged wife, Dina Matos, objected, saying the time to hire experts had passed.

Union County Superior Court Judge Karen Cassidy agreed. She said the evaluations are unnecessary and would delay the divorce trial, scheduled to start in May.

"I'm disappointed," McGreevey said outside the courtroom. "I've always wanted equal custody and equal parenting time. Our hope was to have a third-party objective expert to interview both parents, review the findings and make a detached recommendation."

Matos McGreevey and her lawyer left the courtroom without commenting.

The most acrimonious portion of the hearing came when McGreevey's lawyer, Stephen Haller, responded to an accusation by opposing lawyer John Post that the former governor was using shared custody as "a litigation tactic."

The McGreeveys already retain a parenting coordinator to help mitigate their squabbles, and a counselor for their daughter, a kindergartner. They also have a temporary parenting plan in place, governing such issues as who gets the girl on holidays, which both parties signed after hours of negotiations.

McGreevey, now openly gay and living with a partner in Plainfield, currently has his daughter every other weekend and one night during the week. The child spends the rest of her time in Springfield with her mother.

The McGreeveys have been warring over custody and other issues since they split more than three years ago. They began living apart when he resigned as governor in 2004, shortly after saying on national television that he had a gay affair with a male staffer and would resign.

On Friday, the judge had little patience for either side and seemed determined to keep the case on schedule.

"Somebody here is not being too helpful and is being an obstructionist," she said during the hearing, but did not name the party.

Asked about it afterward, McGreevey would say only that he was anxious to settle the case and wished his wife well, but that shared custody was nonnegotiable.


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