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'Modern Family' teen actress wants split from mom, claims abuse

November 8, 2012 | 11:40 am

Ariel Winter

A young star of ABC's "Modern Family" is seeking to split from her mother, alleging physical and mental abuse, and her temporary custody has been granted to her adult sister.

The guardianship of Ariel Winter, 14, whose real name is Ariel Workman, has been granted on a temporary basis to sister Shanelle Gray, also an actress, after she alleged in a court filing that she was subject to ongoing abuse.

A judge last month ordered the actress' mother, Chrisoula Workman, to stay away from her and have no contact with the minor pending a Nov. 20 hearing on the guardianship and control of at least $500,000 in assets.

"Minor Ariel Workman has been a victim of on-going physical abuse (slapping, hitting, pushing) and emotional abuse (vile name calling, personal insults about minor and minor’s weight, attempts to sexualize minor, deprivation of food etc.) for an extended period of time by the minor’s mother, Chrisoula Workman….," her attorneys said in a petition for guardianship.

"(The) Guardianship with minor adult sister Shanelle Gray, is necessary to prevent minor and prevent further physical and emotional abuse. Guardianship of the minor’s work on the television show 'Modern Family' and mother also has control of minor’s Coogan account."

A Coogan account, named for former child star Jackie Coogan, contains earnings of a minor protected by law from parents' misuse.

In court papers, attorneys are asking a judge to prevent the actress' mother from making "withdrawals from such accounts and that all checks be delivered to the withdrawals for deposit in the blocked account to be established at Bank of America.”

Ariel Winter, who first began acting as a 7-year-old, plays Alex Dunphy, the brainy, bespectacled member of the Dunphy clan in "Modern Family."

As is standard practice in such cases, an attorney is representing the interests of the young actress. To protect her earnings and existing assets, lawyers are seeking to move her money to accounts off limits from her mother.

Workman told People magazine she did not abuse her daughter.

"It's all untrue, it's all untrue," she said to the magazine. "I have my doctor's letter that my daughter's never been abused.... I have stylists' letters that she's never been abused."

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-- Andrew Blankstein and Richard Winton

Photo: Actress Ariel Winter in September. Credit: Richard Shotwell / Invision / Associated Press.

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