ELIZABETH, N.J. - Former Gov. Jim McGreevey painted a dire picture of his finances yesterday, telling a judge that he owes his boyfriend a quarter-million dollars, is months behind on child-support payments, and didn't save a dime during his careers as politician, lawyer, and author of a memoir about his political fall.

McGreevey, who resigned as governor in 2004 amid a gay-sex scandal, testified in his divorce trial that he was sinking further into debt as he pursued a religious degree. He said his $48,000 income from part-time teaching at a collge and consulting work did not meet his obligations. They include $3,000 monthly rent to his boyfriend, child support to two children from two marriages, and $12,000 a year for seminary tuition.

When a question from Superior Court Judge Karen Cassidy touched on his circumstances, McGreevey, 50, responded: "Judge, I understand my financial condition more acutely than anyone in this room."

His testimony came as the trial entered its third week. Cassidy will determine in this phase whether McGreevey should pay child support and alimony to his estranged wife, Dina Matos McGreevey.

The couple split after McGreevey declared himself "a gay American" on national television, acknowledging an affair with a man on his staff. The staffer has denied it.

Matos McGreevey, 41, wants compensation for 13 months she would have lived in the governor's mansion had her husband not resigned. McGreevey argued that the "gubernatorial lifestyle" - transportation in state police helicopters or trooper-driven SUVs, round-the-clock security, and use of two beach houses - were perks of being governor, not matrimonial assets.

McGreevey hedged when Cassidy asked if he could take seminary courses at night and work more during the day.

"Anything's doable," he said before offering reasons why the situation would not be ideal.

Each side is trying to establish what McGreevey is capable of earning and, therefore, what he can afford.

Sharyn Maggio, an accountant hired by McGreevey, testified that the sex scandal limited his earning potential. She also said the McGreeveys could not have afforded the perks of the governorship on their salaries. He earned $157,000 as governor, and his wife netted $43,000 as a hospital executive, according to testimony.

Matos McGreevey's expert, Kalman Barson, said McGreevey could earn $1.4 million over his lifetime by cashing in on his renown as the nation's first openly gay governor.

His earning potential, in Barson's opinion, includes $20,000 per speech on the lecture circuit, and income from another book.

In his cross-examination, McGreevey lawyer Stephen Haller challenged the assumptions Barson used to establish McGreevey's "celebrity goodwill," a legal concept that calculates extra earning potential based on fame.

Afterward, Haller said Barson had "used no identifiable professional standards" on which to base his conclusions. "His valuation is a piece of fiction," Haller asserted.