Ariel Winter, 14, will remain in the care of her adult sister, Shanelle Gray, for now, a judge ruled Tuesday in the family’s bitter fight over the Modern Family actress.
A Department of Children and Family Services report to the court found evidence of emotional abuse by Ariel’s mother, Chrisoula Workman, but that Ariel’s allegations of physical abuse were “unsubstantiated.”
The report also recommended that Gray be awarded permanent guardianship. A trial date will be set to settle that question.
Anita Gumm, an attorney for Chrisoula, had argued that Gray, 34, was an unfit guardian because she’s “too young” and “has her own family to deal with,” and raised speculation that Gray and her husband were only interested in caring for Ariel for their own personal gain.
“We implore the court to send the kid to her dad,” Gumm stated. “Being a controlling mother doesn’t mean [my client] is unfit.”
But Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas stated that Gray had said “eloquent things” at a prior hearing about the family needing to heal. “I don’t think she has ulterior motives,” he said.
Earlier in the hearing, an attorney for Ariel’s father, Glenn Workman, suggested that the father could move into the family home and have Ariel’s mother move out.
But the judge ruled against it: “I have questions about the nature and strength of the relationship with her father,” Levanas said. (Ariel’s parents have been separated for some time, with the father living elsewhere, according to his attorney.)
Asked for comment following the hearing, Chrisoula said, “I love my daughter and I just want our family to be back together.”