Adolescent actress Ariel Winter, best known for playing Alex Dunphy on the ABC faux-documentary comedy series Modern Family, has received an intense amount of attention recently due to real-life family drama. 14-year-old Winter was placed under the custody of older sister Shanelle Workman-Gray following allegations of abuse by her mother.
The custody order was issued by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge in early October after Workman-Gray claimed that Winter suffered abused at the hands of her mother Chrisoula “Chrystal” Workman. The court heard and considered Workman-Gray’s testimony as she explained that Chrystal Workman subjected her daughter to years of abuse, including slaps and insults. Winter’s older sister is also an actress; she has appeared in the ABC soap opera One Life to Live and has voiced characters in several TV commercials and video games.
The judge granted guardianship of Winter to Workman-Gray and issued a protective order against Workman. This is a temporary measure that family courts across the country can enact in light of prima facie evidence of abuse or neglect, even without the alleged harmful guardian being present at the hearing. In these cases, family practitioners and child custody lawyers can enter the appropriate requests fully trusting that the court will act as an advocate for the minor.
It is important to note that in Winter’s case her older sister is reportedly intervening on behalf of the child actress. Workman-Gray’s petition includes diverting checks issued to the young actress to be deposited in a different bank account that her mother will not be able to access. Chrystal Workman has denied the abuse allegations and stated that her daughter is just being rebellious after being discouraged from pursuing a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old actor.