I'm not a canon lawyer, so I just want to throw this out and see if I'm missing something
I recently had someone come to me who is totally on fire for the Catholic Faith, wants to join the Church, is devouring Catholic videos and homilies and cd's etc.
And she's been married four times. None of those marriages was in the Church. I recently got word that it looks like three different annulment cases.
You know what would fix all this? If we, as a Church, said "If you aren't married in a Catholic Church, it wasn't a marriage in the first place."
That might upset the ecumenical movement a little bit, but we already talk about some of their other 'sacraments' being invalid, and, in all honesty, most protestant aren't going to care one bit if the Catholic Church says that the Catholic Church doesn't recognize their marriages as valid.
If we said the only time you need an annulment is if you were actually married in the Catholic Church, that would free up about (I'm guessing) 75% of our marriage cases.
And let's think about it - what protestant denomination does marriage preparation like we do? If two people get married at a Baptist Church, do we really think they were taught and had, going into the marriage, the Catholic Church's understanding of what they were doing when they made their vows?
If you were married in the Catholic Church, you need an annulment.
If you weren't married in the Catholic Church, but now want to join, welcome to the Catholic Church!