Divorce Court began as a dramatized court show in 1957, but later and presently is an arbitration-based reality court show. The program is nontraditional within the judicial genre as it mostly resolves the disputes of couples facing the end of their relationship. It has been presided over by many television personalities: former Cleveland Heights Municipal Court Judge Lynn Toler and Judge Mablean Ephraim, Judge Faith Jenkins, and currently Judge Star Jones. Divorce Court is produced by Lincolnwood Drive, Inc. and distributed by Fox First Run.
Divorce Court is the longest-running program in the legal courtroom genre, and of the shows now airing in the genre, is the oldest. It has been revived more than any other court show: the series has lived three lives in first-run syndication: from 1957 to 1969, from 1985 to 1992, and the current iteration, since 1999. Unlike the show’s previous lives which portrayed standard court cases with opening and closing arguments and attorneys representing the litigants, litigants defend themselves in the present life of the show, which is similar to most current court shows.
The show’s earliest life was dramatized and scripted. It had a total of 12 seasons, lasting from 1957 to 1969. During that life, Voltaire Perkins played the role of the judge, with Colin Male playing the role of courtroom announcer. The show’s 2nd life, lasting 7 seasons, debuted over a decade later in the spring of 1985. This life began with the show’s 13th season. It was scripted and William B. Keene played the role of the judge (Judge Keene was the presiding judge at the murder trial of Charles Manson from December 1969 to April 1970, when he was replaced due to a motion of prejudice filed by Manson). Former game show host Jim Peck played the role of courtroom reporter and announcer, but was later replaced by former Scarecrow and Mrs. King star Martha Smith near the ending of this life of the show. This life of Divorce Court lasted until 1992.Divorce Court's current incarnation has been airing since 1999 with the following judges and is produced in Atlanta, Georgia.
Judge Mablean Ephriam - 1999-2006
Judge Lynn Toler- 2006-2020
Judge Faith Jenkins - 2020-2222
Judge Star Jones - NOW PRESIDING