If the recent drama about Ariel Winter, child star of Modern Family, and her mother are any indication, even parents sometimes need protection from the words of their children, New Jersey family attorneys say. Last month, 14-year-old Ariel Winter, who plays Alex Dunphy on the popular ABC comedy, accused her mother, Chrisoula Workman, of emotionally and physically abusing her. Winter was removed from her mother’s care and a Los Angeles judge appointed her sister, actress Shanelle Gray, as her temporary guardian.
While Winter claims that her mother slapped her and called her names, the investigators’ report into the physical abuse charge was inconclusive, and Chrisoula Workman vehemently denies that any abuse has taken place. Workman claims that her daughter’s rebellious behavior is an attempt to stake her independence, especially in her love life. She points to her young daughter’s ongoing relationship with an 18-year-old man as proof, saying that the abuse allegations began when she caught the two in what she called “inappropriate sexual behavior,” and demanded that Ariel break up with the man. “Ariel is young and does not understand the severity of the consequences of her actions,” Workman said.
Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas, who has been presiding over Winter’s case, set a trial date for December 12th to determine whether Winter should be placed in a permanent guardianship, and in the meantime, her mother must wait, battling bad press and accusations from all sides. New Jersey family attorneys say that Workman is in a tight spot—when a child falsely accuses a parent of abuse, the law tends to initially side with the child.
However, parents can take steps to defend against such accusations, New Jersey family lawyers say. The first step to defending yourself against a false accusation is to retain experienced legal counsel. Your attorney will examine the child’s damning allegations and interview those close to the accused and other family members. In the Winter trial, Ariel’s father, Glenn Workman, is also contesting Gray’s temporary guardianship, asking that his daughter be returned either to her mother’s care or his own home. This kind of support can strengthen an accused parent’s claim of innocence, especially if those close to the family can provide evidence that a temporary guardian cannot provide a stable home environment.
The New Jersey family attorneys at Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman offer legal counsel and a free, no-strings consultation to any parent who may need protection from a rebellious child’s allegations.