Family Law

We understand that dealing with matters of Family Law can often be an emotional process.

At Vandeputte Law, we understand that separation is one of the most difficult life experiences you will ever face. When you retain our firm, you can rest assured that your matter is our top priority, and that it is our objective to provide you with the best possible service at an affordable cost.

Whitney Smith is an experienced family law lawyer, having practiced exclusively in this area prior to joining Vandeputte Law in 2017. She is a hard-working and dedicated advocate with a particular passion for cases involving children. Effective and experienced in the courtroom, her greatest strength is in negotiation, and she has a reputation of resolving previously “unresolvable” matters favourably for her clients, at minimal cost.

A Separation happens when two people who have been

  • Married
  • Common law (living together for at least three years), or
  • Jointly owning property or have joint obligations (such as a lease)

choose to no longer pursue their relationship. A Separation Agreement is the most common way to deal with issues on how to handle the equalization of your family property. A Separation does not legally end a marriage, but is often a prerequisite step to divorce, especially when children are involved in the relationship. We can help you draft an agreement that outlines the parameters of this troublesome time.

Divorce is a Court order that terminates a marriage. A person may typically apply for a divorce one year after separation.

After divorce, a spouse loses certain rights to make claims for support or division of property. In many cases, before granting a divorce, a judge will require evidence that sufficient provisions have been made for the care of your children, in terms of custody and support. In certain cases, an application for divorce may allow your former spouse to contest any matter that had formerly been agreed upon. Whitney Smith can help you navigate the final step to ending the relationship, or ensure that you make an informed decision about whether you should oppose a divorce if you have been served with an application for divorce.

Custody refers to the right to make decisions about your children’s care, religion, medical treatment and education.

‍If you and your former partner have children together, you will need to make decisions about your child’s custody and care. As parents, you will either be given custody or access to your children:

  • As a custodial parent, you will have the right to make decisions about your child’s religion, education, and medical treatment.
  • As the parent granted access, you are able to visit your child and be informed about their education, health, and welfare.
  • Alternatively, custody can be joint between both parents.

When a judge rules on custody and access issues, he or she must do so by considering the best interests of your children.

Access refers to the living arrangements for the children and how much time each parent will spend with the child and under what terms.

Determining the best arrangement for your children can be a complex negotiation when the parents hold differing views. Children of a certain age (usually beginning around 11 or 12 years old) may have a say in their own living arrangements. In unfortunate circumstances, one party uses the custody or access of the children as leverage. Whitney can help bring the other side back to a principled negotiation on the merits rather than allowing your children to become bargaining chips.

Child support, although distinct from Access (see above) is often dependant on the amount of access each parent enjoys.

The principles behind child support are that each parent has a financial obligation to assist in raising the children. If the cost of raising the children is going to be disproportionately borne by one parent over another, the other parent ought to provide a financial contribution to the costs. Child Support is determined by the Child Support Guidelines of Canadian Law unless otherwise decided by the parents. However, the Child Support Guidelines are based on income. If one parent is intentionally unemployed or is hiding income or intentionally receiving less income, the courts may impute a level on income upon that person in order to ensure that the support paid is fair given the person’s means. If your spouse is hiding assets, runs his or her own business and intentionally takes less income, or is unemployed without legitimate cause, Whitney can help you achieve a fair settlement.

Child alienation is a painful component of divorce and custody disputes. It is the conditioning of a child to harbour hatred toward the alienated parent, forced to choose between the caregiver parent and the one whom they may feel has abandoned them..

‍Cases of suspected parental alienation are long, difficult and emotionally taxing. The relationship between the alienated parent and the child has already been damaged in many ways, and it is important to approach the case with a strong strategy and timeliness. As these types of cases are deeply painful and involve a lawyer and often a psychologist, it is prudent to work with professionals who are compassionate, thorough, and committed to halting the ongoing damage to both your child and your relationship with them. Whitney is prepared to help you navigate the law and aid you in salvaging and maintaining your rights to a relationship with your child.

Also known as “alimony” or “maintenance,” Spousal Support is paid by one spouse to another as compensation for any financial disadvantage that the recipient spouse has suffered as a result of his or her role in the relationship.

‍The amount of spousal support paid is often a highly negotiated figure and has complex tax implications. As with child support, there are times when parties attempt to hide, discount or otherwise lessen income in order to escape support obligations. We know that navigating this negotiation can be very stressful, and we want to guide you to an arrangement with your former spouse that will allow you to move forward.

Commonly referred to as a prenuptial agreement, a marriage agreement addresses the rights and obligations of the parties during the relationship and in the case of a future breakdown of the relationship.

‍This contract can determine:

  • Value and ownership of properties;
  • Spousal support;
  • Decisions about the education, religion, or upbringing of possible children; and/or
  • Other matters that may pertain to your situation.

A Cohabitation Agreement helps determine rights and obligations of a couple who lives together.

‍This contract acts similarly to a Marriage Agreement, but is meant for couples who are not married. This agreement will determine who owns what in the home in the case the relationship ends, however, it cannot deal with matters of child custody.

A Guardian is someone who is responsible for another person who is incapable of making his or her own decisions.

‍A person can be incapable of making decisions regarding management of property, or be incapable of providing or withholding consent to medical treatment. A guardianship order must be issued by the court as a result of an application brought against the person who will be subject to the guardianship order. A suitable candidate to become a guardian may be a friend or relative, so long as the applicant is able to act in the best interest of the incapable person. To be appointed a guardian for property, the court will typically require an asset management plan. Vandeputte Law is prepared to help you navigate the intricacies of substituted decisions law so that you can best assist your loved one.

Schedule a FREE CONSULTATION and regain control of your future!


Whitney Smith has been in charge of my case and I could not be happier. A few weeks after hiring the firm I have gotten access to see my children to now having them overnight every other weekend. Any time I need to get in touch with Whitney or have any questions within hours I hear back from her. So glad to have Whitney on my side.”

“Whitney listens and she cares. It is refreshing to trust a lawyer.”

“I had a previous lawyer who seemed to be leading me straight into a bad situation where there was a good chance that I would be losing my existing order for joint custody. Changing lawyers and retaining Whitney was by far the best choice I could have made. Whitney was very knowledgeable and is not afraid to tell it like it is. Because of this, better strategies were able to be put in place. On the first court appearance, Whitney was able to help me and my very difficult ex spouse come to an agreement and settle out of court. It only took but a few hours which helped a great deal in sparing cost. On top of being knowledgeable, Whitney was very polite and understanding and even extended a helping hand in providing additional useful resources to follow up on for after court was finished. I consider it to have been a great privilege and her services much appreciated. Should I ever need help again in the future, I know where my one stop shop will be. Thank you Whitney….I can breathe again!!”

“Whitney is an excellent lawyer, who effectively and creatively uses the law and facts to obtain the best possible result for her clients. She is smart, sharp and personable, which makes her well-respected by her colleagues, clients and other legal professionals. In addition to her strong legal skills, her dedication, passion and empathy set her apart. She is committed to making a difference in her clients’ lives and does so successfully on every case. I wholeheartedly recommend Whitney.”



Navigating a separation is fraught with so many challenges it can leave you feeling anxious, vulnerable and frustrated. Initially I had representation and that first experience was worrisome. I doubted that my lawyer was helping me.

In time, I decided to try and figure it out on my own. However, this too, is daunting for different reasons. The technical language of law and its processes and procedures are out of my league. I was feeling desperate and the entire time I was never closer to a resolution. In fact, it felt that the harder I tried, I still was slipping backward. It was a game to be played and I didn’t have a coach, I didn’t know the rules, and it seemed I was going to be run into the ground by the other team who was eagerly positioned to take advantage of my inexperience.

In an attempt to finally resolve the matter, I came to Casey Vandeputte and his team. From the moment I walked through the door and met the staff, everything felt…right. Amidst feelings of worry and doubt, I began to feel a new sense of confidence. Each person on the team I spoke with added a layer of kindness and friendliness which makes a stressful occasion much easier to manage. But this was just the start.

Whitney, I recall our first meeting and every meeting since then. They all have the same feel. You are serious about my case and give me the sense that I deserve to be represented. You constantly give me the impression that we can reach a settlement that is fair for everyone. You listen to me, even the things that aren’t productive, and allow me to be me. But at the end of the day, you let me know what is productive and realistic and you advise me along the most sensible course of action. It is your level-headed, methodical and moderate temperament that continues to move me forward. I cannot thank you enough.

But my most significant thank you is for something else altogether. This process is difficult. It can turn a good day into a bad day in no time. I don’t know how you do it, but after meeting with you I always leave feeling optimistic, hopeful, and grateful. This experience has never been easy but you have made this very comfortable for me. You remind me that you want this settled quickly so that I can save money. You remind me that this process will take time but will be over soon. You provide counsel that balances the pros and cons of each choice I make and set it in a perspective that is mindful of the long-view. The big picture. I can’t really say thank you enough Whitney, but I thought this might be a start.



Whitney is a great lawyer. She was very professional throughout my case and it was evident that she always went above and beyond to serve in my best interest, which helped alleviate a lot of the stress for me. She was very patient in her explaining and was very supportive to whatever questions I had. I was extremely impressed with her work and negotiation skills! It was incredible my case was resolved on my first case conference, thanks Whitney! I would highly recommend Whitney to anyone who needs representation in family law.

At Vandeputte Law, we strive for high levels of communication and accessibility.