When a couple's relationship has failed and they begin the process of divorce, emotions often run high. They may harbor ill will towards each other and may occasionally complain, sometimes with a high degree of vitriol concerning their soon-to-be former spouse. This is not unusual or even unexpected.
But in some cases, it doesn't stop. During the divorce proceedings, this parent will continue to comment on the failings of their ex. Some may do it unconsciously, while others may become focused on pointing these failings, real or imagined, out to everyone they meet. And they may point them out repeatedly to the couple's children.
This is where it can become a significant problem. This is sometimes referred to as parental alienation. If you have been subject to this behavior, it can produce real damage to your relationship with your children. However, this is a very complex area, and demonstrating it will require more than merely alleging your child's other parent has made disparaging remarks to your children.
Courts in Missouri are likely to require you produce evidence and this can come in the form of written letters or notes, emails, texts, messages on voice mail or answering machines or testimony of witnesses.
Missouri statutes include a factor that looks at the ability of the couple to work together raising the child. Disparaging the other parent is unlikely to promote cooperation between the parents, or a willingness to collaborate in raising the child.
If you can show a pattern of this type of behavior, across a range of evidence, a court may consider that behavior as part of the custody determination. However, given the strong focus by the legislature in promoting the involvement of both parents, the alienating behavior will need to be of a very severe nature and the proof will need to be very strong for a court to take the drastic step of granting sole custody or limiting visitation significantly.