In the Emmy-winning sitcom "Modern Family," Winter plays a smart and somewhat nerdy teen. But behind the scenes, she is in the center of a family court battle.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas heard arguments on who should be Winter's temporary guardian. Last month, her sister, Shanelle Gray, filed an emergency petition for Winter to stay with her instead of their mother, Chrisoula Workman.
Workman, was temporarily stripped of custody after the actress accused her mother of being abusive, slapping, hitting and pushing her. She also claimed her mother caused emotional abuse by insulting her about her weight and depriving her of food.
In court on Tuesday, her parents, who are estranged, contested the arrangement. Workman has denied the allegations and says Winter is trying to break free as part of a teenager's rebellion. She has filed more than two dozen declarations from friends, acquaintances, stylists and others who say they've never witnessed any abuse.
"The allegations made by Ariel are false," said Workman's attorney Anita Gumm. "We really feel she's just a rebellious teen and wants her independence. It's our hope that the court terminates the guardianship. Both parents want Ariel home. Shanelle is not suitable to be a guardian."
The actress' father, Glenn Workman, argued that he should raise Winter, saying he would move back to the family home if the mother moved out. According to court documents, Winter is estranged from her father, and he is not being considered for guardianship.
Levanas extended Gray's temporary guardianship until trial on Dec. 12. The ruling was issued after Levanas considered a report by child protective investigators that was critical of Winter's mother. The report found there was no conclusive evidence of physical abuse toward Winter, but that there were indications of emotional abuse. The agency planned to step in and take its own action if Winter did not remain in a guardianship.
A judge is expected to determine whether Winter should be placed in a permanent guardianship at the trial.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.