The problem may stem from the inadequate prior agreement. The onus should not simply be on you to notify her of your dates - especially when she has 1st choice. Perhaps it's time to modify the agreement to require her to have a deadline to notify you in years when it her 1st choice to avoid this cropping up in the future. That said, I suggest that you schedule a free consultation with a Westchester Child Custody attorney for a full assessment.
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It may not be reasonable, but the court might allow the time frame. Especially in light of the fact that your ex has first choice this year. Only you can decide if it is worth going back to court in order to litigate the issue of this year's vacation. Good luck.
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I tend to agree with Mr. Bliven, as your stipulation should make the procedure clear and immutable. You probably have a remedy in court, based on the clearly intentional failure of your spouse to collect the certified letter. Consult a lawyer about the pros and cons of a petition. Also, always send a 1st class mail copy of the certified copy, which receipt is presumed if it is not returned by the post office.
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