Domestic violence and child abuse are not limited to physical violence, but also include emotional abuse. Modern Family actress, Ariel Winter, has recently been named a victim in an emotional abuse scandal with her mother, Chrisoula Workman. Although Ariel’s claims of physical violence were unsubstantiated by the Department of Children and Family Services (“DCFS”), DCFS did find evidence of emotional abuse. As a result of the DCFS findings, on November 20th, a judge ordered Ariel to remain in the custody of her adult sister, Shanelle Gray.
The DCFS report also contained recommendations for the 14-year-old Ariel’s future care. According to DCFS, it is in Ariel’s best interest for Ms. Gray to be awarded permanent guardianship. Workman’s attorney, Anita Gumm, vehemently opposed the idea that Gray be awarded temporary or permanent guardianship of Ariel. Gumm argued that 34-year-old Gray is too young to act as guardian despite being old enough to have a family of her own. Due to Ariel’s well-known role on the popular television show, Modern Family, Gumm also suggested that Gray was seeking guardianship over her for individual gain. Apparently the judge disagreed with Gumm’s representation of Gray’s motives since he awarded her temporary guardianship. A hearing on permanent guardianship has not been set.
In a case such as the Ariel Winter’s case, the adult who becomes the guardian of an abused child does not necessarily need to be a family member. Any family member, friend, or other adult who knows the child may ask the court to become his or her guardian. Because Gray is Ariel’s sister, the two girls likely share a close relationship that will make Ariel’s transition away from her mother much easier.
As Ariel’s guardian, Gray now has a number of important responsibilities. Guardians are responsible for the health care and education of the minor child. This means that, as guardian, Gray has the ability to make medical decisions for Ariel. Additionally, Gray may choose where Ariel attends school. This may be a complicated decision considering that Ariel is an actress on a hit television show. Although guardians have the right to make decisions for the minor child, the child’s parents still remain responsible for financially supporting that child. If the guardian wishes to further sever ties between the child and his or her parents, the guardian may choose to provide financial support without help from the parents.
Please contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding child custody and visitation. Nancy J. Bickford is the only lawyer in San Diego County representing clients in divorces, who is a Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) and who is actively licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.