Judge: McGreevey owes wife no alimony

August 8, 2008 3:20:06 PM PDT
Former New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey doesn't have to pay alimony to his ex-wife, a judge ruled Friday in granting the couple's divorce after a tumultuous marriage that crumbled publicly when McGreevey acknowledged he was a "gay American." A superior court judge ruled that McGreevey, the nation's first openly gay governor, must pay $250 a week, or $1,075 a month, in child support for his 6-year-old daughter with Dina Matos.

Matos had asked for $2,500 a month alimony for four years and $1,750 a month in child support. The couple share custody of the girl.

McGreevey, now a seminary student, testified during the couple's contentious divorce trial that he is too poor to pay alimony. Both claimed during the month-long trial that they were deeply in debt and unable to support themselves.

The couple formally separated in February 2005, three months after he left office.

McGreevey announced that he would resign in November 2004, acknowledging that he is "a gay American" who had an affair with a male staffer. The staffer denied the affair and said he was sexually harassed by the governor.

In her written ruling, Union County Superior Court Judge Karen Cassidy lamented the anger and animosity she witnessed during the couple's divorce trial.

"Especially, in a matter as high profile as this, the court was disappointed that much of the testimony, particularly as it related to public figures within the State of New Jersey, and the dirty laundry associated therewith, needed to be aired in the public and in the press," Cassidy wrote.

"The McGreeveys clearly had agendas. As previously addressed, their anger seemed to override any ability to testify credibly or to be reasonable."

Cassidy ruled that Matos is not entitled to assets from McGreevey's tell-all book, "The Confession."

However, in dividing their marital assets, Cassidy ruled that McGreevey owes Matos $109,000, half their various bank and investment holdings.

The judge rejected Matos' claims that her ex-husband should compensate her for the 13 months she missed out on the lifestyle perks of the governor's office.

That portion of the ruling could impact whether Matos proceeds with a fraud claim against her ex-husband. She claims McGreevey duped her into marriage because he needed the cover of a heterosexual relationship to advance his political career.

However, Matos' request for money to compensate her for the alleged fraud is based on the lifestyle she would have enjoyed had McGreevey not resigned. On Friday, the judge said Matos was not entitled to that lavish gubernatorial lifestyle.

"The marital lifestyle that was afforded the McGreeveys by the State of New Jersey while they resided in the governor's mansion should not be considered," Cassidy ruled.

She also rejected claims that McGreevey was purposely underemployed so that he didn't have to pay alimony. Cassidy noted that McGreevey was able to rely on his rich boyfriend to provide for him.

"Mr. McGreevey is not seeking employment because he does not need it to sustain himself," she wrote.

Neither McGreevey nor his ex-wife commented after the ruling was posted online.

"No alimony - that's what I'm talking about," McGreevey lawyer Stephen Haller said after scanning the opinion. "It's hard to imagine a more favorable ruling for Jim McGreevey's position."

Matos issued a statement before the ruling decrying the pain and suffering she and her family have endured throughout the separation and divorce.

"Although the victimization continues," she said, "I am stronger for the experience."

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