Josh Lucas and his ex-wife Jessica Ciencin Henriquez wanted to limit the disruption in their 5½-year-old son Noah Rev‘s life after their divorce — so much so that they decided to adopt a co-parenting arrangement called “bird’s nesting.”
The couple, who split in October 2014, have maintained a tight relationship throughout the years by putting their son’s needs first.
“We are both totally committed to raising our son and being in love with our son,” Lucas, who is currently starring opposite Uma Thurman in the acclaimed new Broadway play The Parisian Woman, tells PEOPLE.
“I do believe our relationship will be constantly changing,” adds the actor, 46. “It’s a very remarkably complex period of my life and Jess’ life that we’re doing the best we possibly can to keep his life stable.”
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To help with that, Noah remains in a solitary home in New York City while his parents rotate their stays in and out of their family residence — the same way birds alight and depart the nest.
“It’s a concept that’s fairly new, particularly in the psychology of raising a child in divorce,” says Lucas. “And the idea is, it’s really not the child’s fault that you got divorced.”
“It’s your fault and therefore it should not be the child’s problem to go back and forth between two different homes,” continues the Sweet Home Alabama star. “It should actually be the parents’ problem.”
So far, Lucas says he and Henriquez have managed the arrangement well, no matter how “tough” it can sometimes be.
“It’s really interesting,” Lucas says. “Rarely, do both parents, particularly if they’re divorced, get to have as much interaction with their children. We’re really, truly doing the split custody thing, and have been so lucky to soak up all that time with Noah.”
As for Noah? “He loves it,” Lucas says. “He doesn’t love us being separated but he loves that he has his bed and his toys and his dog. It’s his life.”
Noah’s happiness is extremely important to Lucas. The actor says that fatherhood has been his primary focus and passion since Noah’s birth, even moreso then his career.
That shifted a bit when he read the script to The Parisian Woman. The play, written by House of Cards scribe Beau Willimon, presented Lucas with a twisted tale of a couple in an unconventional marriage who use their connections to leverage political gain in Trump’s administration. It was the perfect storm of story, costar, creative team, and character that “pushed [Lucas’] buttons in a real way.”
“I’ve never been more interested in anything since I had my son than raising my son,” Lucas says. “This play was the first time I’d found something that really reignited my interest in my work.”
“The material coming from Beau was timely,” he adds. “The characters had bite and, at the core, the play went beyond politics to focus on deep, passionate love. Most of all, Uma was and is this actress who I knew was really going make this extraordinary and push me hard as an artist.”
Of course, Noah still remains a top priority. If anything, the show has allowed Lucas to show his son that it’s valuable to have a job that you “love, fight for and believe in.”
“Every parent knows that one of the biggest battles of raising a child is balancing work and life. I’m trying to have my son see that work is not a chore — to understand commitment,” Lucas says. “It’s not a job you’re being forced to be separated from your family [for], but a job you’re choosing to be equally committed to as raising your family. It’s a very complex development.”
“He’s here — Uma has a 5-year-old daughter and they are here in the dressing rooms often,” Lucas continues. “They watched pieces of the show and hear the show. We’re incredibly blessed to do jobs that we’re deeply interested in. I want him to see that.”
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But don’t think that Noah is always excited about learning that lesson. “This play has really consumed me to the point where my son is actually angry at it,” Lucas jokes. “He told me I need to quit the play! He’ll get there.”
The Parisian Woman is now playing at New York City’s Hudson Theatre.