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Older Sister Granted Permanent Guardianship for Ariel Winter of ‘Modern Family’

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Modern Family star Ariel Winter’s real-life has been more family drama than a family full of laughs. Her older sister, Shanelle Gray, has been granted permanent guardianship over her younger sibling. This ruling comes after a long, difficult battle between the 16-year old sitcom star and her mother, Chrisoula “Crystal” Workman. Workman has been accused of physically and emotionally abusing the 16-year actress.

The agreement was reached just before a trial was set to begin to determine who would care for Winter. Workman agreed to drop her objections to Gray’s guardianship if her daughter could watch a video montage of family photos before court adjourned. Weird. The judge agreed, so Winter and Gray sat and watched as photos of their childhood were shown before them, resulting in some emotional moments.

The sad story dates back to November 2012, when Winter was removed from her mother’s home once the suspected abuse came to light. Gray, 35, was granted temporary guardianship over her sister, kicking off a heated family feud. Jimmy Workman, the actress’ older brother, filed documents in August to have Winter removed from Gray’s care and award him custody instead. He denied the allegations of abuse about Crystal and also denied the claims of abuse Gray made when she filed for emancipation from the family 20 years ago (so the family’s history of drama and reported abuse sadly began long before 2012). Jimmy, 33, famously played Pugsley Addams in The Addams Family movies from the 90’s. He reportedly left the courtroom and wept Monday after Gray was granted guardianship.

But that’s not even all the parties involved. A Los Angeles judge also gave Glenn Workman, Ariel’s father, financial guardianship over Winter until January 2016, when she turns 18.

According to the original guardianship petition Gray filed for Ariel back in 2012, reports claim that Crystal slapped, hit, and pushed Ariel, as well as abused her in the form of “vile name calling, personal insults about [her and her weight], attempts to ‘sexualize’ minor, deprivation of food, etc. for an extended period of time.” Crystal denied the allegations originally and stated again on Monday that she “never abused” Winter.

The new ruling giving Gray guardianship is happy news for Winter. In a Teen Vogue interview from March 2013,  she described how, since leaving her mother’s home, her life “is definitely more normal – and that’ll help me grow up like I’m supposed to.”

Things seem to have improved in many ways for Ariel. “I always wanted to be a dancer, and now I’m taking dance classes. And I didn’t have many friends. It was all about work. Nowadays, my sister’s like, ‘You’re supposed to have friends. You’re supposed to go out on Friday and Saturday nights.’”

Winter began acting at age seven and has played Alex Dunphy on the critically acclaimed ABC series since 2009. She has appeared in countless movies and television shows, including Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Monk, Nip/Tuck, So Notorious, Criminal Minds, Ghost Whisperer, ER, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Molly is one of our fashion and entertainment editors. She's an expert on all things pop culture news, shopping, beauty, and the latest trends!
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