Judge Lynn Toler

Time's change. So does Divorce Court. The landmark show — currently nominated for a Daytime Emmy as Outstanding Legal/Courtroom Program — has always been about unhappily marrieds. But there's a big shakeup coming this fall. We got the deets from the judge who has presided over the syndicated hit since 2006 — the wise, funny and (dare we say it?) adorable Lynn Toler.

TV Guide Magazine:
How do you freshen up a TV formula that's been around since 1957?
Toler: Starting next season I'll be doing dissolutions of cohabitation — in other words, for people who are shacking up. The marriage rate is dropping significantly and unwed couples who live together have the same problems as those headed toward divorce. Who's getting out of the apartment lease? Who gets the car? Who gets Fluffy? By the way, I'm kicking and screaming about this change. Hate it, hate it, hate it.

TV Guide Magazine: Seriously? How come?
Toler: Because I'm old-school. I don't believe in shacking up and hooking up and having two or three baby daddies. Society has evolved, and we need to address this so that our show keeps providing a service people can use. But I say, "Get married or don't do it at all!"

TV Guide Magazine: Wouldn't that just add to the divorce rate?
Toler: Merging two lives should be a long, hard and arduous decision, and when people cohabitate, they procreate. Know what I mean? Children are a lifetime commitment. If you're not cool enough with your guy or your gal to say "Until death do us part," what are you doing? When I was girl, you did not get pregnant out of wedlock. If you did, it was shameful. Now girls are like, "Yep, I'm 16 and pregnant. So?"

TV Guide Magazine: How do you stay sane judging so many bitter, battling people?
Toler: I spent eight years in a municipal court, handling domestic-violence cases, sending people to jail, watching so many young black men falling off the edge. I would arraign 60 people in a morning. That was stressful. This is a vacation.

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