There are some television shows that seem to stand the test of time and are always entertaining no matter how long they've been on TV. Divorce Court is one of those because it's got everything people love: relationship drama, real life couples, and a kick-butt judge who presides over these outrageous cases. There's been a couple of judges over its history on air, but what happened to Judge Lynn Toler?
'Divorce Court' has been an on-air staple for so many years.
Over the years, there have been several renditions of the show, which first aired between 1957 - 1969 and then again between 1984 - 1992. These seasons weren't the format that we've come to know today. Instead of being real cases, they were dramatized. Each episode was scripted with re-enactments of real divorce cases, presented by actors.
Nearly everyone was an actor on these seasons and student attorneys would be arguing the cases. It was a fun way for them to gain experience before hitting a real court room, but the earlier seasons weren't as exciting as the show we've come to know today.
In 1999, the format changed and 'Divorce Court' was better than ever.
In the fall of 1999, Divorce Court was reimagined with real couples who had actually filed for divorce. Instead of having student attorneys argue the cases, each person in the real divorce presented their case. And the judge was a real judge with the cases being presided over by Judge Mablean Deloris Ephriam.
For seven seasons, she would decide in favor of one of the litigants, and would make rulings on things from asset division to alimony and her decisions were legally binding.
In 2006, Judge Mablean left the show, reportedly due to contract negotiations but she also accused the show of racism, claiming she was fired because FOX had issues with how she styled her hair.
"When will FOX and the rest of America accept our cultural differences as African Americans and embrace us with all of our different hairstyles, hair textures, hair color..." she said in a "press conference statement" at the time.
Judge Mablean was replaced by Judge Lynn Toler, a former judge from Cleveland Heights, Ohio, who took over mid-season on Sept. 11, 2006.
What happened to Judge Lynn Toler?
According to Entertainment Weekly, Lynn Toler announced that after 13 years on the bench she was leaving the reality court program. Announcing with a video posted to Twitter on March 5, 2020, which has since been deleted, she said, "I couldn’t wait any longer because the news is coming out and I wanted you to hear it from me.” Adding, “I’ve left Divorce Court, we parted ways. I had 13 great years. It was time to move on.”
In an interview with AJC in April 2020, Judge Lynn went into more details on why she left the show saying it was time. "My contract was up," Lynn said. "We were renegotiating. I wanted a different direction of the show. I liked the bench. I liked the robe."
Faith Jenkins took over presiding the program in July 2020, and she came with TV experience, having been the star of Judge Faith, which ran for four years, from 2014 - 2018.