By ANTHONY McCARTNEY
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The family of teenage actress Ariel Winter agreed Wednesday to undergo counseling to try to resolve issues that led to her mother losing custody and control of her daughter’s already prolific career for the near future.
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 adult sister, Shanelle Gray. The sisters held hands throughout court proceedings as a judge reviewed the agreement. Her father, Glenn Workman, was granted temporary control of his daughter’s finances, and both parents agreed to undergo counseling with Winter and Gray to seek a potential long-term reunification.
The settlement makes clear that fundamental changes will have to occur with Winter’s parents for them to continue raising her.
“The parties acknowledge that there is no assurance that Ariel will return to the home of either or both parents,” the agreement states.
A therapist will set the terms of counseling, and when and how often Winter and Gray will meet with their parents.
The agreement calls for Winter’s mother to not have any involvement in her acting career and relinquish control in Winter’s company unless a court orders otherwise. “Chrisoula Workman shall have no contact with nor in any way interfere with Ariel Winter Workman’s professional relationships and business contacts,” the agreement states.
Ariel, who has been acting since age 7, plays Alex Dunphy on the ABC series, which is both popular and critically acclaimed.
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.
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.
The actress’ brother, Jimmy Workman, said after the hearing that Gray’s claims were overblown and the family had been close until recently. “My mother is a loving, caring sweet individual who’s done everything for her children,” he said.
The trial would have likely featured testimony from various family members and acquaintances about the abuse claims lodged against Chrisoula Workman. She had contended Gray was an unfit guardian and had sought detailed financial information to try to prove her claim.
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.
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.”
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