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Melissa A. Featherston

Missouri child custody battles can fracture families

Missouri fans of the hit show 'Modern Family' may already be aware of the family drama surrounding one of the younger members of the cast. Ariel Winter has been in and out of court amid accusations her mother is abusing her. In a recent order, her mother lost the child custody battle, and her older sister has been awarded guardianship.

Her mother no longer has control of her finances and has been ordered to relinquish control of her daughter's company. The actress' older sister has claimed she was subjected to the same abuses Winter has gone through, and she was also removed from their home at a young age. However, her mother has denied ever abusing her.

Child Protective Services has also been involved in the case and, while they did find evidence of emotional abuse, the allegations of physical abuse came back as inconclusive. Her father will now have control over her finances, but the family will also undergo counseling. A judge in the case has warned both parents that there will have to be substantial changes before Winter is placed back in either home, but also cautioned them there is a possibility she would never come back to either one of them.

Child custody battles are difficult for all sides, but especially for the children. Winter's family has agreed to go through counseling, but it is no guarantee they will be able to repair their family. In the meantime, her sister has been awarded temporary child custody until the matter can be permanently decided. Missouri families going through a similar situation should be aware they have legal options when it comes to child custody decisions. Knowing one's rights can help them navigate the sometimes confusing waters of the family law process.

Source: njherald.com, "'Modern Family' star's mom cut out of showbiz," Anthony McCartney, Dec. 12, 2012

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