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"Modern Family" star caught in custody battle

The TV comedy "Modern Family" is a show designed to explore the complex and fast-changing issues that are faced by modern American families. However, that message may have struck a little too close to home for one of the show's young stars, who now finds herself caught in the middle of a child custody dispute.

Illinois fans of "Modern Family" will be interested to hear that 14-year-old Ariel Winter, who plays the role of Alex Dunphy on the show, was recently removed from her parents' custody after her adult sister raised concerns that the young actor was being abused by her mother. Ariel has been in her sister's custody ever since the accusations were first leveled. The sister has asked the court to grant her permanent custody of the teenage Winter, and bar her parents from controlling the girl's substantial income.

The sister claims that Ariel's mother repeatedly abused the girl both emotionally and physically, accusations that Ariel's parents have vehemently denied.

Regardless, it seems as though the girl will remain in her sister's custody for the time being. Though the parents still deny any wrongdoing, they have agreed to undergo counseling sessions in the hopes that they can resolve the issues that caused the separation. An agreement signed by both parties states that Ariel's mother is to be barred from contacting any of her daughter's business contacts or interfering with her professional relationships. Control of the young actor's finances was given to her father.

The decision to seek counseling earned the praise of the judge who has been overseeing their case; he complimented the family and their attorneys, and stated his belief that the situation would improve.

Counseling can be an extremely useful resource for families looking to heal old wounds; however, it is not the only possible solution to a custody dispute. Those who find themselves caught in a dispute would do well to seek the assistance of an attorney who can explain all possible options in a given situation. Parents will then be able to follow the course that suits the best interests of the child.

Source: Quincy Herald-Whig, "'Modern Family' star's mom cut out of showbiz," Anthony McCartney, Dec. 12, 2012

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