WSVN — When he was ordered to pay his ex-wife’s attorney $15,000. He tried, with small bills and coins. The attorney wouldn’t take it, and instead the South Florida man was threatened with jail time and then had to pay another $2,000. It’s definitely an unusual Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

When I see a guy with a pool table in his living room, I assume he is either single or divorced.

Marc S. Tanner: "Right now I’m single. Yes, I am."

Marc is single after getting divorced, and the end of his divorce is a strange, strange story.

Marc S. Tanner: "And I just wanted to give him a little piece of his own medicine."

As part of Marc’s divorce, he had to pay his ex-wife’s attorney $15,000 for her legal bill.

Marc S. Tanner: "I wanted to take up his time, just like he took up my time."

So Marc bought this container. He pulled out some dollar coins he had collected, headed to the bank to get a few bundles of ones and went to work.

Marc S. Tanner: "$6,500 in one dollar coins, $2,900 in singles and the balance in $5s, $10s and $20s. And yes, all bills were crumpled up and they were in a big container from Home Depot."

As Marc crumpled the $1 bills, he saw the print that says, "This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private." He then headed to the attorney’s office, but the lawyer would not take the cash.

Marc S. Tanner: "The reasons for not accepting the cash, it would have taken many hours to do the counting."

Marc took his $15,000 and went home. Then it got worse when he found out the lawyer had asked a judge to hold Marc in contempt of court.

Marc S. Tanner: "Saying I did not make a valid attempt to pay the debt on time. I had the cash. He refused to accept it because it was done so in U.S. currency."

Marc then had to appear in front of Judge Dale Cohen.

Marc S Tanner: "Judge Cohen threatened me that I had three days to come up with a certified check to the attorney, that I was not allowed to pay in U.S. currency, and I was threatened with incarceration if I didn’t do so."

Marc had enough. Rather than keep fighting, he handed over a certified check for $15,000 and was also ordered to pay another $2,000 to the attorney for having to file the contempt charges against Marc.

Marc S. Tanner: "How can a judge in a courtroom in the United States of America fine you $2,000 in fees and award the person that brought forward the contempt motion against me?"

Well, Howard, can an attorney refuse to accept cash, and can a judge back them and not let you pay cash?

Howard Finkelstein: "Yes, if the payment is not what the law calls commercially reasonable, it does not have to be accepted. And requiring someone to count $15,000 dollars in small bills and coins is not commercially reasonable."

I contacted Judge Dale Cohen. He did not return my call. 

The attorney who wouldn’t accept the cash did. Michael Bass said he felt he would have been in grave danger by counting the cash with Marc standing there. He also said the $2,000 fee for filing a contempt charge against Marc was fair, because he did a lot of legal work and had to bring in another attorney to defend him in case Marc fought the contempt charge.

Marc said he couldn’t afford more legal fees to fight the contempt charge and the $2,000 fee, so he paid it, but Howard says if he had fought, he might have won.

Howard Finkelstein: "Because the court order never said Marc could not pay with cash, it’s highly doubtful he would be found in contempt and ordered to pay the extra $2,000. All the judge could likely do is make him pay the $15,000 with a certified check."

Since Marc had already paid the $2,000 to avoid the contempt charge, he cannot reopen the case. He lost that money, and lost respect for the judicial system.

Marc S. Tanner: "The whole thing was just a farce, in the legal system."
Many people love to be paid in cash, but legally, the bottom line, if a person or any business doesn’t want cash, you can’t force them to accept it. You learn something new every day.

Feel growing contempt for a problem you have? Ready to divorce yourself from it? Engage with us. Hopefully we can help you cash in. With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN
On Twitter: @helpmehoward7

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