Judge Lynn Toler is a recognizable figure in the TV courtroom scene. Most notably, Toler was the star of the hit court show Divorce Court, where she gave couples advice on how to save their relationships. Toler was on the show for 14 seasons. Divorce Court helped Toler set her claim as a famous TV judge and it wasn’t long after Toler left Divorce Court in 2020 that she became a co-host on WE tv’s Marriage Boot Camp.
Most recently, Judge Toler joined forces with WE tv once again to bring us her newest show, Commit or Quit. Commit or Quit, which premiered on WE tv on May 12, 2022, focuses on couples who need to decide whether or not to stay together. At the end of the session, Toler decides if the couples should get married or break up for good. “I’ll either rule for divorce or marry ’em right on the spot,” she says in the trailer for the show.
Toler has quite a distinguished career both on and off-screen. Being a lawyer, judge, TV personality, author, and philanthropist are just some of Toler’s many achievements.
Here are five things you should know about the Honorable Judge Lynn Toler.
She’s a real judge
In most televised courtroom dramas the judges aren’t actual judges, they are known as arbitrators. Like a judge, an arbitrator can settle legal disputes between two parties but a judge has more legal power than an arbitrator. Unlike some TV judges, Toler is in fact a judge.
According to her official bio, Toler got her Bachelor’s Degree in English and American Literature from Harvard University and then received a doctorate in law from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1984. Toler was later elected as a judge of the Cleveland Heights Municipal Court, where she served for eight years before her TV career began.
Toler authored four books
Apart from being an arbitrator, judge, lawyer, and television presenter, Toler is also a writer. Toler has authored and published four books, which include: My Mother’s Rules: A Practical Guide to Becoming an Emotional Genius, Put It in Writing!: Creating Agreements Between Family and Friends (which she co-authored with Deborah Hutchison), Dear Sonali, Letters to the Daughter I Never Had, and Making Marriage Work: New Rules for an Old Institution.
Her first book, My Mother’s Rules, was quite a success, selling out during its first printing. The book is an autobiography that details Toler’s upbringing and her mother’s influence on her life. The book also chronicles the struggles of growing up with a father who suffered from mental illness and alcoholism. In an interview with Mother of Color blog, Toler spoke about the book’s impact on readers.
“People are touched by mental illness: many can’t say it or talk about it, but the fact that I did makes them feel not so alone, and relieved because gave them an opportunity to speak about it, which unburdens them. I think I’ve helped enough people, just by speaking on it, that whatever concerns I had about betraying my father’s secrecy about his issues have been overwhelmed.”
Her TV debut was on 'Power of Attorney’
Divorce Court wasn’t Toler’s first TV show. She started out on the show Power of Attorney, which aired from 2000 to 2002. Power of Attorney differed from other court TV shows in that the attorneys were famous for high-profile cases they’d done. For instance, Johnnie Cochran, the defense attorney in the O. J. Simpson murder trial, was one of the attorneys who appeared on the show.
20th Century Fox Television produced the show. In the second season, Judge Lynn Toler was the presiding judge. Power of Attorney was canceled midway through the second season due to low ratings, but Toler was able to land a similar role in the program Divorce Court shortly after.
'Divorce Court' helped Toler with problems in her own marriage
Toler has presided over many couples’ relationship troubles over the years, but that doesn’t mean she’s immune to having problems in her own marriage. In an op-ed for HuffPost, Toler revealed that her marriage has been rocky at times. Toler and her husband, Eric Mumford, have been married since 1989. The couple has two sons together and Toler has four stepsons from Mumford’s previous marriage.
Toler wrote in her op-ed that after 19 years of marriage she and Mumford “were off the road and deep in the weeds.” They were both angry and unhappy and could go days without speaking to one another. It wasn’t until Toler took the lessons she’d learned from Divorce Court and applied them to her own marriage that things started to get better.
“I didn’t know all this was what we were doing until I stepped back from where we were and looked at it as if I were on the bench,” Toler wrote. “That’s when I saw all of the small stupid things that landed us where we were.” She revealed that what got her marriage back on track was effective communication and deciding together to “fight the problem instead of fighting one another.”
Toler is an avid advocate against domestic violence
Judge Toler was and still is actively engaged in local and national campaigns to prevent domestic violence. Toler headed the Cleveland Heights Coordinated Community Response to Violence against Women, which advocates for community resources to assist women who are victims of violence. She was also on the advisory board for Templum House, a battered women’s shelter. In 2002, she was awarded The Humanitarian of the Year Award from The Cleveland Domestic Violence Center. Toler is also a founding board member of Bloom365.org, a non-profit organization that educates and trains young people to be advocates against abuse and domestic violence.