The family of teenage actress Ariel Winter agreed Wednesday to undergo counseling to try to resolve whether she will return to her parents’ home or continue to live with her adult sister.
The accord came shortly before a trial over who would raise the “Modern Family” star was scheduled to begin, with both sides appearing likely to air longtime family grievances and other issues in court. Winter’s mother, Chrisoula Workman, has been accused of physically and emotionally abusing her 14-year-old daughter, claims she has vehemently denied.
For the next several months, Winter will continue living with her sister, Shanelle Gray, whose hand she held throughout court proceedings as a judge reviewed the agreement. Her father, Glenn Workman, has been given temporary control of his daughter’s finances, and both parents agreed to undergo counseling with Winter and Gray to try to seek a long-term reunification.
Chrisoula Workman left the courtroom crying and did not speak with reporters as her husband, who had been living separately from her recently, held her hand and navigated a crowd of cameras.
The agreement calls for Winter’s mother to not have any involvement in her acting career: “Chrisoula Workman shall have no contact with nor in any way interfere with Ariel Winter Workman’s professional relationships and business contacts.”
Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas praised the family and their attorneys, saying, “I do believe things are going to get better.”
An initial report by child protective services found evidence of emotional abuse, but claims of physical abuse were deemed inconclusive, Levanas said last month.
Since October, Ariel, who turns 15 in January, has been living with Gray, an actress who has appeared on “The Bold and the Beautiful” and operates acting studios with her husband. Gray’s attorney has said she was subjected to similar abuse by her mother and that state authorities removed her from Chrisoula Workman’s home when she was a teenager.
Ariel, who has been acting since age 7, plays Alex Dunphy on the ABC series, which is both popular and critically acclaimed.
Guardianship cases in California are public record. Gray’s attorneys requested the case and its proceedings be sealed, but a judge refused. The case was filed under Ariel’s birth name, Ariel Workman, in part to avoid attention.
Glenn Workman is estranged from his wife but states he would be willing to care for his daughter. The judge initially rejected his request, citing inconsistent statements Glenn Workman made in court filings and to child protective services investigators.
Ariel has several projects in the works and already has a lengthy resume of appearances on TV series such as “ER” and “Phineas and Ferb” and movies such as “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” '‘Ice Age: The Meltdown” and “ParaNorman.”