09/21/2012 09:11 am ET

Lisa Whelchel Divorce: 'Survivor' And 'Facts Of Life' Star Leaves Husband After 24 Years

Lisa Whelchel, current "Survivor: Philippines" contestant and former "Facts of Life" star, has divorced her husband of 24 years.

Whelchel revealed that she and her husband, pastor Steve Cauble, quietly divorced back in March.

"The divorce was final on March 1, and [I] went out to be on Survivor on March 10," Whelchel tells People magazine. "Going out to Survivor was helpful for me, to divert my attention and not just dwell on the loss."

"I just never thought it would happen to me," she added. "It was painful to realize that it wasn't going to work out."

E! News confirmed Whelchel's divorce, but added that she and her 61-year-old ex remain good friends.

Whelchel, who is a devout Christian, first met Cauble at a prayer group in 1986. The two worked together in Christian ministry ever since "The Facts of Life" ended in 1988. Whelchel is a Christian author and speaker, and she has publicly spoken about both her faith and her marriage, according to Yahoo! TV. In her memoir, "The Facts of Life," the actress discussed falling in love with Cauble and how the unexpected relationship developed over time.

"Survivor" is her first foray back into the limelight.

Prior to revealing she and Cauble, 61, divorced, Whelchel took to her personal website to discuss her experience on "Survivor."

When responded to the question of whether it was "fun" being a contestant on "Survivor," Whechel wrote: "I don’t think 'fun' is the word I would use to describe my experience. Those days on the island were the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It pushed me to my extreme limits physically, mentally, spiritually, and especially, emotionally. I’m so very grateful for the opportunity and I’m so glad I did it but I think it’s like childbirth…I may need to put a few years behind me and some perspective in front of me before I would ever consider doing it again."

Whelchel is best known for her role as wealthy Blair Warner on the 80s sitcom "The Facts of Life." Now, she can be seen on the 26th season of CBS' "Survivor" competing against fellow castaways in the Philippines.

Check out all of Whelchel's "Survivor" castmates below.

Survivor: Philippines Cast