A trial that will determine who raises "Modern Family" star Ariel Winter was scheduled to begin Wednesday, with her mother and adult sister involved in an increasingly bitter struggle for custody of the teenage actress.
The actress' mother has been accused of physically and emotionally abusing the 14-year-old, which prompted a judge to temporarily strip her of custody in early October. An initial report by child protective services found evidence of emotional abuse, but claims of physical abuse were deemed inconclusive, Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas said last month.
Chrisoula "Chrystal" Workman denies she has ever abused the actress. She claims her other daughter, Shanelle Gray, is not a fit guardian. She contends Ariel is a rebellious teen and should be returned to her home.
Levanas will hear testimony and consider multiple factors during the trial, which is expected to last several days and won't be fully resolved before the new year.
Ariel turns 15 in January, and Levanas will likely consider her views during the trial. She has not yet appeared in open court, although she was rushed to a Los Angeles courthouse from the "Modern Family" set in early October when Gray filed for an emergency guardianship.
Since then, she has been living with Gray, an actress who has appeared on "The Bold and the Beautiful" and operates acting studios with her husband. Gray's attorney has said she was subjected to similar abuse by her mother and that state authorities removed her from Workman's home when she was a teenager.
Ariel, who has been acting since age 7, plays Alex Dunphy on the ABC series, which is both popular and critically acclaimed.
Guardianship cases in California are public record. Gray's attorneys requested the case and its proceedings be sealed, but a judge refused. The case was filed under Ariel's birth name, Ariel Workman, in part to avoid attention.
Although The Associated Press does not generally name underage victims of abuse, Ariel's name is being used because it is included in the public guardianship case.