Our Attorneys | Divorce Mediation San Diego | Men's Legal Center
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    940 C Street
    San Diego, CA 92101
    United States

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Attorney Bios

The Men’s Legal Center
San Diego Family Law Attorneys

The Men’s Legal Center is a law firm comprised of San Diego family law attorneys who understand that the foundation of this type of legal practice is the people.  This includes the people on our team and the people we serve.  Therefore, we would like to take this opportunity to allow you to get to know the attorneys who have served countless clients in regards to their family law needs.

Craig A. Candelore
Gerald W. Hokstad
Steven Merker
Francisco Batara
Cyrus Abtahi


Craig A. Candelore, CLS-F
Managing Attorney

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Mr. Candelore is the founding attorney at the Men’s Legal Center, and he has been providing legal help to clients who have needed assistance in the area of family law for close to 30 years. Mr. Candelore earned his Bachelor’s of Science degree from West Point before earning a Master’s degree in System Management from the University of Southern California. Mr. Candelore earned his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of San Diego School of Law, where he graduated Cum Laude.

Mr. Candelore is a Certified Family Law Specialist and a professional mediator trained by National Conflict Resolution Center, San Diego.

Mr. Candelore served in the military, both active and reserves, ultimately earning the rank of Colonel from the United States Army. Mr. Candelore deployed on active duty overseas during Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Some of his duty assignments included working as a Regional Senior Law Enforcement and Anti-Terrorist Officer, stateside during and after 9-11; and Iraqi Police Development Project Officer, in Iraq. Mr. Candelore also has served as a translator at the United Nations and enjoys writing books in his spare time.
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Gerald W. Hokstad

Gerald W. Hokstad, CLS-F
Senior Attorney

Mr. Hokstad has extensive family law and civil practice experience. He believes that his practice of law should be in pursuit of the truth for his clients in the California legal system. When possible Mr. Hokstad advocates mediation. People do have legitimate disagreements and both parties can have very valid reasons for their contentions and claims. The goal of mediation is to facilitate a meeting of the minds resulting in an agreement.

Mr. Hokstad has been married to his wife for 38 years and they have two adult sons. He likes to relax on the weekends by going fishing. He is an avid world-class fisherman. Mr. Hokstad attended Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA for his BS, Bethel Theological Seminary for his MA and he received his Juris Doctorate from Western State University.


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Steven Merker

Mr. Merker, who prefers to be called Steve, grew up in Chicago. He graduated from Southern Illinois University Law School in 1981. Steve has enjoyed the last 35 years practicing law in San Diego. Steve began his career as a solo practitioner with a general practice in civil, criminal, and family law. In 1993, he decided to limit his practice to Family Law and in 1996, he established Merker and McDonald. Before joining Men’s Legal Center in 2016, Mr. Merker also served as a Temporary Judge for the Superior Court, as a Settlement Judge since 2007. He is on the San Diego Family Law Bar Association Alternate Dispute Resolution list for Family Law mediation.

Mr. Merker has been married to his wife, a special education teacher, for almost 18 years. He has two adult children from his first marriage, 5 adult step-children, and 5 grandchildren. Steve spends his free time enjoying the sunny Southern California weather relaxing with family and friends, playing on the beach, and golfing.

Mr. Merker has personally been involved in child custody litigation. He believes in helping parties resolve their matter amicably, reminding the parties to focus on what is in the child’s best interest. If necessary, he can become an aggressive and fiery litigator. Mr. Merker also handles misdemeanor and felony criminal matters.
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Francisco Batara

Mr. Batara is a native San Diegan. He was raised in Chula Vista and La Mesa and has a passion to help serve his local community. Mr. Batara graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. He attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, where he interned with the San Diego County Public Defender’s Office and volunteered with the Legal Aid of San Diego’s Unlawful Detainer clinic.

Mr. Batara believes that everyone should have access to the justice system and that all voices should be heard. Mr. Batara’s upbringing and background have given him the desire to help those in need of family law help. He understands firsthand the problems and the toll divorce and custody issues can have on children, for this reason, has dedicated his career to helping families find solutions.

Mr. Batara has a young daughter and is engaged to be married. He is fluent in Spanish, is an avid sports fan, loves the San Diego Padres and Chargers, and enjoys spending quality time with his family.
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Cyrus Abtahi

At the Men’s Legal Center, Cyrus Abtahi practices exclusively in all aspects of divorce and family law to include the cross over issues involving real estate and domestic violence criminal misdemeanor.

His clients reap the benefit of his considerable knowledge and experience and intense personal commitment.

Cyrus prides himself on accessing the needs of his clients, pursuing the best possible results quickly and efficiently given the facts of the case.

Cyrus earned his Bachelor’s degree in business from Webster University in St Louis, MO.
He then had a successful career as a mortgage broker and real estate broker for several years in San Diego, CA before deciding to attend law school at California Western, San Diego, CA.
After law school, he worked as a family lawyer for several years before joining the Men’s Legal Center.

His business degree, mortgage broker and real estate background give Cyrus a tremendous insight in business and real estate issues related to family law.

Cyrus grew up and was educated in Austria, Europe. He attend the French Lycée in Austria. He successfully passed his Austrian college entrance state exams. He speaks German and French.

On his off-time he enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Cyrus is a physical fitness and martial arts enthusiast.

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The San Diego family law attorneys at the Men’s Legal Center help clients with all types of legal matters that relate to family law, including:

  • Child Custody and Visitation
  • Supervised Visitation issues
  • Interstate Child Jurisdiction issues
  • International Abduction to include Hague Convention
  • Child and Spousal Support, Initial and Modification
  • Assessment of Income (unemployed/under-employed) and Vocational Evaluations
  • Complex Asset and Debt Valuation and Division
  • Business Valuations
  • Real Property Issues
  • Separate Property Tracing
  • Pension Valuation
  • Military Divorce Specific Issues to include Jurisdiction, Pay, Retirement
  • Prenuptial Agreements
  • Presentation in Department of Child Support Services (DCSS)
  • Property Division
  • DCSS Representation
  • Complex Marital Litigation
  • Domestic Violence
  • Estate Planning
  • Wills & Trusts

How San Diego Family Law Attorneys Can Help

If you are facing the prospect of ending a marriage or any other family law-related issue, you need to seek the help of the San Diego family law attorneys at the Men’s Legal Center as soon as possible.  Contact the firm now to schedule an initial consultation so that you can be sure that your rights are being protected.

Call us at (619) 234-3838