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 Child Welfare /CPS Attorneys in San Diego

We advocate for parents and relatives in juvenile dependency matters. We fight Child Welfare Services / CPS to protect your rights!


At Minella Law Group, we recognize the paramount importance of protecting your rights in regards to your family because family is what is most important in life.  Our dedicated team of qualified attorneys, led by Child Welfare Legal Specialist, Julie O. Wolff, is dedicated to providing support, advocacy, and resources to your family in order to protect your family in a safe and nurturing environment.

Why Choose Minella Law Group For Your Juvenile Dependency Case (or child welfare investigation)?

Child-Centric Approach: Our firm believes children should be raised by their parents, or if not their parents, then other relatives. We work with parents to implement realistic solutions to promote long-term family stability.
Experience in Child Welfare Matters: Ms. Wolff is one of a small handful of Child Welfare Legal Specialists working in the private sector in San Diego County. The designation is through the California Bar Association, National Association of Counsel for Children, and the American Bar Association. We also have a plethora of other attorneys who have significant experience working with families in family court and juvenile court. All our attorneys have a deep understanding of the legal complexities surrounding juvenile dependency cases.
Collaborative Approach: Juvenile Courts are supposed to be “problem solving courts”. As such, we foster positive relationships with the County Attorneys and the Minor’s Counsel’s Office. Our goal is to work together to formulate structured case plans that assist in strengthening the family structure. Each family has unique needs and interests. We work with you and a team because the one size fits all approach does not work for most families.
Empowerment Through Legal Representation: At Minella Law Group, we empower families through top rate legal representation to successfully navigate the complex juvenile dependency system. We provide guidance as to parental obligations, parental rights and duties, use terminology focused on the issues in your specific case. Our clients have all resources needed, and more, to meaningfully participate in the legal process and achieve successful outcomes.

Child Welfare Services Include:

Services Overview
  • Consultations and Legal Advice
  • Document Preparation
  • Estate Planning
  • Family Formations
  • Second Parent Adoptions
Pre-Filing Child Welfare Services Investigation:

When your family is being investigated by Child Welfare Services, this can be frightening.  This is a pre-filing of a petition to seek services for a child, it is a process where a case worker gathers information due to an abuse or neglect claim.  Don’t go through this process alone as the findings can lead to the filing of a petition to remove the child from the home or supportive services.  Avoid a petition from being filed by having legal representation from the start.  

Child Welfare Services Defense:

If a petition has been filed alleging an unsafe home environment for the children, it is imperative you have the right attorney to assist in your defense with the ultimate goal of keeping your children home.  Our defense includes challenging the allegations, presenting evidence in court, and ultimately working with the social workers to advocate for keeping your family together.  We collaborate with all the professionals involved and use the strength of our relationships to bring the case to a successful resolution.  

Relative Placement of Dependent Children:

If you are related to a child who has been removed by Child Welfare Services, we can assist in your advocacy as a relative to have the child placed with you, rather than in foster care.  Timing of these requests are crucial as well as knowledge of the system.  The goal is to have the child placed with a familiar person pending the finalization of the investigation or services required.  With family in mind, we will fight to support the family and the best interest of the impacted children.  

Foster Parent Adoption:

If you are a foster parent seeking to adopt the child placed in your care, we can assist with the process. When reunification is not possible or appropriate, foster parents can petition to legally adopt.   Our attorneys are skilled in assisting foster families with the process so you can focus on maintaining the bond and focus on your family.  

CACI Registry Removal: 

Having your name on the Child Abuse Central Index can be burdensome and stressful.  It can also have serious implications for your professional and personal life including restrictions on employment opportunities, volunteer work, and your ability to have custody.  If you believe your name has been incorrectly added, you have the right to try and have your name removed. Our skilled CACI registry removal attorneys can assist in requesting a review and providing evidence to support your removal.  


In cases where parents are unable to care for their children, we assist family members obtain a guardianship of a minor to ensure a stable and supportive environment.  


Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Applications:

We assist juveniles who have been neglected or abandoned by a parent and cannot return to their country of origin to petition for legal residency in this county and get permission to work here




We’re Here To Help

We offer complimentary 15 minute initial consultations.


What is Juvenile Court or Juvenile Dependency?


San Diego County has a special Juvenile Court to conduct proceedings which involve children 18 years old and under, and non-minor dependents who are 18-21 years old. 

Juvenile Court was formed with the intent to ensure safety and provide protection which address the unique needs of children.  

Juvenile Dependency cases are one type of cases hearing at Juvenile Court.  In Juvenile Dependency proceedings occur when the County files a Petition which alleges a minor in its jurisdiction is either being abused or neglected or at risk of abuse or neglect.  Before filing a Petition, Child Welfare Services or Child Protective Services social workers have investigated claims made by community members that a child or children may be at risk.

The goal of a juvenile dependency proceeding should be to protect children while providing educational services to parents to preserve the family unit.  If reunification does not occur, the Court has a duty to provide a permanent plan for the child.  The law provides that adoption is the most preferred permanent plan.  

If the Court decides that the allegations of abuse or neglect in the Petition are trust, the court has taken Jurisdiction of the case and the children are known as “dependents” of the Court. Once Juvenile Court takes jurisdiction of a child, no other Court can make decisions as to that child, this includes Family Courts and Probate Courts.

If children cannot remain in the care of their parents, the law provides that relatives and non-relative extended family members should have the opportunity, when possible, to provide a placement for the child. However, if this is not possible, children may be placed in a foster home or a group home.

Some of the services available to parents are: Parenting Classes, Substance Abuse Programs, Domestic Violence Prevention Services, Mental Health Care, and many others.

How Can Our Office Help You?

If you are a parent who is being investigated for possibly abusing your child, talk to us before you speak to CWS.  We can assist you and make efforts to prevent filing of a petition in the first place.

Once the petition is filed, we help parents reunify with their children as soon as possible.  We can also help relatives and close family members attain placement of the dependent child.  

If you are placed on California’s Child Abuse Central Index (known as the CACI registry), call us. We will file a Grievance on your behalf and fight to get your name off this registry.


The team at Minella Law Group is here to provide you with the expert legal guidance and support you need to protect your assets and achieve a favorable outcome.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can assist you with your case.