"Modern Family" star Ariel Winter is in a "much better situation" now that she's away from her mother and living with her older sister ... this according to one of Ariel's closest friends.
TMZ spoke with Sterling Beaumon -- a fellow child star who met Ariel on the set of a Nintendo commercial a few years ago. He also starred as a young Ben Linus on "Lost."
Beaumon tells us he's still very tight with Ariel -- and has had extensive conversations with the 14-year-old actress since a judge removed her from her mother's home and named her older sister Shanelle as her temporary guardian.
"Everything is good with her," Sterling said ... "She's in a much better situation now."
He adds, "I actually know her sister as well ... her sister is a wonderful girl, woman actually ... great person. "
When asked about allegations that Ariel's mother Chrystal has abused the actress both mentally and physically ... Sterling said, "I can say that [Ariel is] not lying ... there's no reason for her to lie about something like this."
While he wouldn't say if he saw any of the alleged abuse firsthand, Sterling added, "She's in a great situation now."