"Modern Family" star Ariel Winter is struggling to find a real-life family of her own. The 14-year-old actress, who plays Alex Dunphy in the ABC sitcom, has been in and out of court over the past few weeks, claiming that her mother, Chrisoula Workman, has abused her. Though Winter's 34-year-old sister, actress Shanelle Gray, was granted temporary guardianship on Tuesday, the battle continues. Here's a blow-by-blow account of the real-life drama:
Oct. 3: Winter files court papers in Los Angeles alleging her mother has abused her physically ("slapping, hitting, pushing") and emotionally ("name-calling, personal insults about minor and minor's weight, attempts to 'sexualize' minor, deprivation of food") for an "extended period of time." A judge grants guardianship of Winter to Gray until a Nov. 20 hearing. Workman is ordered not to contact her daughter, and TMZ reports mom is ordered to stay 100 yards away.
Winter on Oct. 21. (Amanda Edwards/WireImage)
Oct. 21: Winter is all smiles as she arrives in a genie costume to the Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times 20th Annual Halloween Carnival at Universal Studios Backlot.
Nov. 7: Workman denies abusing her daughter. "It's all untrue, it's all untrue," she tells People magazine.
Nov. 9: Workman releases a statement to E! News further denying that she abused Winter: "I love my daughter very much. I would never abuse her in any way and I have always tried my best to always protect her and do what is right for her. My daughter is in a business that requires you to grow up fast. It's hard enough being a teenage girl, but it's even harder when you are in the public eye. However, because you are in the public eye, it doesn't mean you are no longer in need of good parenting."
Winter continues to work on "Modern Family" and her lawyer, Amir Pichvai, tells People, "Ariel is doing well and she has a lot of people who are loving her and supporting her at this time, and I'm pretty confident that she'll fare well through all of this."
Nov. 15: Court transcripts are released from the "emergency guardianship hearing" on Oct. 3. Gray's lawyer, Michael Kretzmer, claimed Winter was almost fired from "Modern Family" due to her mother's "harassment and interference." He also claimed the show had to sneak Ariel food because her mother was depriving her and that they reported the alleged abuse to the Department of Children and Family Services. He further alleged that Workman would not let her child leave the house unless she was dressed in an "inappropriate" way to "show off her breasts and otherwise" and that the mother of three hit Winter "not so as to leave marks."
Gray testified that she started living with other family members nearly 20 years ago after her mother started physically abusing her when she was Winter's age. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Gray was in foster care for two years.
Winter with boyfriend Cameron Palatas. (John M. Heller/Getty Images)
When Workman joined the hearing on Oct. 3, she claimed Winter accused her of abuse because Workman broke off Winter's relationship with 18-year-old "A.N.T. Farm" actor Cameron Palatas. "I caught my daughter with her boyfriend in bed," Workman said, according to People, adding, "And ever since I did that, I've paid." After the hearing, Workman reportedly filed a complaint alleging inappropriate sexual contact between Palatas and her daughter, but Palatas's mother tells People the case had since been closed.
Nov. 19: Winter's father, Glenn Workman, who is separated from the actress's mother, files an objection to Gray's Oct. 3 claims that he can't care for his teen daughter. He says his estranged wife's rocky relationship with Winter has gotten in the way of his relationship with his child (though, according to the Associated Press, he previously wrote a declaration stating allegations of abuse were false) and that Gray had brainwashed Winter. "This whole situation has turned into a circus and places Ariel in a position she should not have to be in," he writes. "I ask this court to allow me the chance to function as a healthy parent and help Ariel through this ordeal." His objection also suggests that a business manager be appointed to handle the young actress's finances.
A declaration is also written by Winter's brother, Jimmy Workman of "The Addams Family," claiming he had never seen abuse against his sister: "I have seen normal mother and daughter arguments and banter back and forth but nothing more."
Nov. 20: Workman's lawyer, Anita Gumm, argues that Winter should be sent to her live with her father. Gumm argues that Winter's sister is "too young" to be her guardian and that she and her husband, who have their own family, are simply seeking personal gain. However, Gray's petition for guardianship asks that the courts block access to Ariel's bank accounts.
Los Angeles judge Michael Levanas rules for Winter to stay under Gray's care after the Department of Children and Family Services finds evidence of emotional abuse by her mother. "I have questions about the nature and strength of the relationship with her father," Levanas says, according to People magazine.
And we're still not done. A court date has been set for Dec. 12 to determine whether Gray will maintain permanent guardianship of her younger sister. In the meantime, Ariel is still at work on the set of "Modern Family."