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, CLS-F
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, CLS-F
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.
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.
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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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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 two children, which give him great understanding of what clients go through in this difficult and emotional family law matters. He is fluent in Spanish, is an avid sports fan, loves the San Diego Padres, and enjoys spending quality time with his family.
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Melody Grover grew up in the California Bay Area prior to attending California State University, Sacramento. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice. She obtained a Juris Doctorate from Lincoln Law School in Sacramento, California.
After graduation, Ms. Grover opened a law office in San Diego practicing criminal defense for close to 25 years. She joined Private Conflicts Counsel, and later the Office of Assigned Counsel. Ms. Grover tried many misdemeanor and felony cases, including three strikers and those facing life in prison without the possibility of parole. At the Men’s Legal Center, Ms. Grover’s focus is on representing clients in domestic violence and custody cases.
Domestic violence is often the dominant issue in dissolution and custody cases. Domestic violence claims occur simply to obtain an advantage in the custody of the children. Often these allegations have become a sword to use against another parent which affects their lives, employment, and the future of their children. If a domestic violence claim is true, Melody pursues those claims aggressively and has a party protected immediately.
In custody issues, Ms. Grover believes in fighting for what is in the best interest of the children. She knows that having both parents in their life will ultimately enrich the adult they grow into.
Melody’s favorite pastime is spending time with her 4 children, 3 grandchildren, and Siberian Husky as well as swimming. Her twins are seniors in high school, one a cheerleader and one a La Cross player. She enjoys attending their school events.
Kristen Singh was born and raised in San Diego, California. After graduating high school, Ms. Singh attended San Diego State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. After graduating, Ms. Singh obtained her Juris Doctorate from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego.
Ms. Singh is an experienced Civil Litigation attorney and Family Law practitioner who is dedicated to strategically helping clients achieve their legal goals. Ms. Singh has successfully represented clients in a broad range of family law, personal injury, criminal law, bankruptcy law, and immigration law. Ms. Singh regularly appears in court and, as such, is able to offer her clients advice as to the preferences and tendencies of diverse judges. She is proficient in various areas of law and has the oral advocacy skills needed to represent her clients effectively and persuasively.
Ms. Singh is passionate about helping her clients navigate through somewhat stressful and confusing times. Understanding these expected disruptions, she strives for compassionate and effective legal representation to guide each client through the family law process.
In addition, as a dual citizen of Ireland, she is instilled with a sense of global relativism and unique international character. As a complement to Kristen’s extensive studies and real-world law experience, she has an enhanced understanding of the nuances that connect different sectors of society and help form the foundation of familial relationships. Ms. Singh’s experience serves as a testament to her dedication to the compassionate advocacy that is the hallmark of our practice at the Men’s Legal Center.
While a native of San Diego, her interest in world travel has taken her to over 23 countries throughout western, central, and eastern Europe.
Mike, who joined Men’s Legal Center in 2023, has developed a strong passion for Family Law and Immigration, assisting people with some of the most challenging issues related to their families and children. With years of experience working with individuals from diverse backgrounds and various socio-economic statuses, Mike brings a unique perspective to his practice. After managing his own Law Firm in Syria, becoming an attorney in the USA was a lifelong goal for Mike. He believes in the American dream, and the potential one can unlock through hard work and determination.
Prior to his move to the USA, Mike accumulated over 12 years of experience in civil and family law in Syria. After relocating, he earned his master’s degree in international and comparative law from USD. In addition, he has provided pro bono legal counseling to low-income individuals in San Diego County and courts. Mike has managed his own law office in El Cajon and handled many contested and uncontested divorce cases. Mike’s native language is Arabic.
Outside of his legal work, Mike enjoys traveling, swimming, and playing chess with his wife and three sons. He also harbors a deep passion for soccer. During the weekends, he serves as a referee for the San Diego County Soccer Referees’ Association.
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.