It’s an expression from the gambling world, but holds true in family law too.
Overplaying your hand is when you think you have the advantage, but do to whatever reason you don’t. Sometimes it’s because an important piece of information was not disclosed, or perhaps overlooked, or because the opponent has the ability to make a situation appear to be something that it is not.
For instance, it’s common in custody disputes for one side to want full custody and the other to want joint. The side that wants joint describes each side’s parenting as basically 50/50 and, of course, there is no need for child support. The side that wants full custody describes the parenting as more 80/20 and seeks support. The full custody parent can also back up their claims. They know the teachers, doctors, children’s schedules, and have done the primary care-giving. The side that wanted joint, well their job did not allow them to really do joint, but the 20% of the time they were around, they did 50% of the parenting. That would have been nice to know on the front end.
The bottom line is to be sure to tell your lawyer everything. If you do, you can be protected as much as possible. If you don’t, they may call your bluff and you could be up the river.
Matthew Thompson is a Divorce attorney in Mississippi and warns you that sometimes calling the person who is overplaying their hand can backfire on you. So be careful either way.