Arizona requires parents to submit a Parenting Plan when parents file for a divorce, separation or child custody. A Parenting Plans is a written document that sets forth a practical schedule for parenting time, each parent's rights and responsibilities for the personal care of the child and for decisions in areas such as education, health care and religious training, the length of time with each parent, when and where the child will celebrate holidays and birthdays during the year, when and where exchanges will take place, how parents exchange information, make important decisions concerning education and medical needs, etc. In essence, it covers every aspect of a child's life.
I look at a Parenting Plan as a fall back position. In other words, parents who are getting along can always trade parenting time, agree to a different holiday schedule or do whatever they agree is in the child's best interest. However, when parents can not agree on anything, the Parenting Plan can be enforced by the police, if necessary.
The very best Parenting Plans are those that are developed by the parents, working together. Only the parents know what is in their child's best interests. Only the parents can tailor a plan that best suits their individual needs. For example, some families will celebrate Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving Day while others wait until the weekend to get together with family and friends. Some families always have gatherings on Veteran's Day, some families do not. When parents sit down together and openly discuss what is important to them the Parenting Plan will often result in a schedule that will, in the end, benefit the children and provide them with a safe and happy life. And ultimately, that is the goal!