Video: Custody battle

updated 4/27/2007 3:43:31 PM ET 2007-04-27T19:43:31

A judge handling the contentious divorce of the nation’s first openly gay governor and his estranged wife urged them on Friday to use “common sense” during their split.

Judge Karen Cassidy also called former Gov. James E. McGreevey’s sexual orientation insignificant to the case.

The courtroom session with McGreevey and Dina Matos McGreevey was their first public appearance together since he resigned and told the world he was “a gay American” more than two years ago.

Just before the hearing started, McGreevey approached his wife as she sat between her lawyers and shook her hand. He spoke and she acknowledged him; the encounter lasted a matter of seconds.

At the hearing, which followed a private meeting with lawyers, the judge said the couple had agreed to continue their current visitation arrangements for their only child, 5-year-old Jacqueline.

The girl lives with Matos McGreevey and visits her father every other weekend.

The judge also said the McGreeveys should “use their common sense and shall not introduce her to any non-age appropriate activities,” a concept the judge said was “admittedly vague.”

“The court can’t be your child’s parent,” the judge said. “I don’t want to micromanage your child’s life.”

The divorce has drawn intense publicity, much of it brought on by court filings in which the McGreeveys accuse each other of bad parenting and other misdeeds.

One of the most contentious issues in the divorce is what the child should be exposed to. Her mother made McGreevey and his partner take down a nude photograph in their home, contends that Jacqueline should not be allowed to sleep in her father’s bed, and says that the girl should not be allowed to receive communion in the Episcopal Church because she is being raised a Roman Catholic.

At the hearing, the judge said the girl would not be permitted to sleep in the same bed with anyone except her mother or father.

In the courthouse lobby, McGreevey said the judge’s comments regarding his homosexuality were “gracious and also reflected the law.”

Matos McGreevey and her lawyer, John N. Post, did not speak to reporters afterward.

Each partner has written a tell-all book about the marriage, which ended in 2004 when McGreevey, then governor of New Jersey, told the world he had had an extramarital affair with a male aide. McGreevey, 49, later claimed his former lover tried to blackmail him, and said he resigned rather than succumb to the man’s threats. The man, Golan Cipel, denies having had an affair with McGreevey.

McGreevey said Friday that he has not yet read his wife’s memoir, “Silent Partner,” which hits bookstores on Tuesday, but that he plans to “at some point.”

His own book, “The Confession,” arrived last September. He said then that he had carried on his affair with Cipel while his wife was hospitalized after a difficult child birth.

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