Caitlin Herndon’s (JD ’12) interest in the exercise of family law stems from her own experiences as a child of divorced parents. Growing up, she wasn’t sure if she would become a lawyer, but she realized that her natural talents matched a legal career. She saw the role lawyers and judges played in mediating and negotiating on behalf of families, and she wanted to be someone who helps others.
Herndon grew up in Sandy Springs, Georgia and received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia. While looking at law schools, she said she was impressed with the Georgia State Law department and its downtown Atlanta location. During her law degree, she devoted herself to pro bono work in the Capital Defender Appellate Office and took the HeLP Clinic course.
“The HeLP clinic is probably my most impressive law school experience as it was practical for us and a little more practical for the professors, so to speak,” said Herndon. “They gave us a chance to spread our wings and get the job done.”
After graduating from the College of Law, Herndon practiced at various boutique law firms and as a solo practitioner before joining HF Family Law. She met HF founder Monica Hanrahan Friday when they were speaking out against a lawyer on a divorce case. They settled the case, but Freitag was still impressed with Herndon’s skills and asked her to join the company in 2016.
Four years later, Herndon is a partner at HF Family Law. She works on custody, divorce, legitimation, adoptions, and pre- and post-marriage agreements.
Earlier this year, she received legitimacy for a same-sex couple in Fulton Superior Court. In Georgia, the law historically has been that only a child born from a marriage of the opposite sex has two legal parents from birth. Historically, in same-sex marriages, one or both partners have to legally say goodbye in order to establish a parent-child relationship. In the case of legitimation, her company represented the woman who did not carry or adopt the couple’s children. In the context of the divorce, they applied for confirmation of the children’s legitimacy on the grounds that the children were legitimized by the marriage of the parties. The parties agreed to the legitimation and the order was given that our client should be confirmed as the rightful mother of her children without formal adoption.
This type of precedent is extremely important for LGBTQ + families, whose stability is vulnerable to U.S. Supreme Court rulings.
“It’s important to make it known that you are available to the LGBTQ + community,” said Herndon. “I was looking at a case in Muscogee County where an investigator refused to make a home visit for a same-sex couple who are adopting a baby girl. In the end, we were able to do without the home visit. “
Herndon owes her strong mentoring and robust Georgia State Law alumni network to helping her get where she is today. She remembers eating at the Waffelhaus with law school classmates with whom she remains in contact to this day.
“Classroom experience taught us how to be a problem solver, and problem solving is so much of what we do,” said Herndon. “There is also a really nice alumni network. We have a Facebook group where we refer cases to each other and exchange ideas from each other. The camaraderie is second to none. “
Written by Kelundra Smith