Dina Matos took a
calculated risk and lost. Offered a settlement said to
top $300,000 early in divorce talks with her gay ex-husband,
former New Jersey governor James E. McGreevey, Matos
turned it down. The epic four-year drama that ensued
cost each a half-million dollars and further drained
the well in the court of public favor.
''She got a
little greedy,'' said matrimonial lawyer Joshua Forman, who
has watched the McGreevey case closely. ''Plain and simple,
the guy was governor of New Jersey. He wasn't working
for some huge corporation, making a lot of money.''
What did Matos
get for all the bother? A lump-sum payment of $110,000,
which represents half the assets the McGreeveys accumulated
during the four years they lived together as Mr. and
Mrs., much of that spent in the New Jersey governor's
mansion in Princeton.
was ordered to pay $250 per week in support for the
couple's only daughter, 6. The calculation was based on
McGreevey's earnings in his last sustained full-time
job -- as governor -- and his ex-wife's income in her
prior job as a fund-raiser at Columbus Hospital in
overseeing the McGreeveys' acerbic divorce admonished both
clearly had agendas,'' wrote Union County superior court
judge Karen Cassidy. ''As previously addressed, their anger
seemed to override any ability to testify credibly or
to be reasonable.''
The ruling in the
monthlong divorce case came nearly four years after
McGreevey announced he was a ''gay American'' and said he
had an affair with a male staffer. The aide denied the
affair and said he was sexually harassed by the
McGreevey, 51, is
now a full-time Episcopal seminary student who
testified during the trial that he relies on his boyfriend
for household expenses and legal fees. He said that if
he were not in school, he'd have trouble finding a job
because his name is tainted by political and sexual
accused the former governor during the divorce trial of
intentionally not working to avoid paying alimony and
The judge found
some credibility in both arguments but factored the
income of McGreevey's partner into the decision.
''We honor the
principle that a current spouse has no obligation to
support someone else's child while accounting for the
reality that the current spouse may provide economic
resources to the household,'' the judge wrote.
That touched off
a wave of protest among gays and lesbians, with
activists wondering how a partner's assets could be
considered if the couple could not be married under
state law. New Jersey does offer civil unions.
''The problem is,
New Jersey does not give same-sex couples like Jim and
Mark [O'Donnell] the freedom to marry and to be legally
equal spouses,'' said Steven Goldstein, head of Garden
State Equality, the state's largest gay rights
organization. ''When the law gives a couple responsibilities
without equality, the law must be changed.''
The only issue
yet to be decided is a separate fraud claim filed by
In it, she claims
she is entitled to damages for being duped into
marriage by a gay man who needed the cover of a wife to
advance his political career.
While Cassidy did
not specifically rule on the merits of the claim, she
did strike down Matos's request to be compensated for the 13
months she would have spent in the governor's mansion
had McGreevey not resigned in disgrace.
''She was asking
for the perks of a governor -- car, driver, clothing
allowance,'' said Forman. ''You get certain things when you
have a job, not when you leave it, especially when you
leave in disgrace.''
Though each spent
days on the stand publicly discussing the rise and fall
of their marriage and the sordid details in between, neither
has been willing to speak since it came to an end.
(Angela Delli Santi, AP)