[quote="wisdomseeker, post:1, topic:185369"]
it came as a surprise to me when the priest told me that even though a person is not married in the CC and it is divorced, it still needs to be anulled by the Church.
another priest told me that if a marriage is not done in the CC, the marriage is not considered valid. according to him the marriage never took place.
which is it?
Well, they're both right. One is talking about how the Church establishes that one is free to marry after having attempted marriage in the past, while the other is talking about what it means for a marriage to be null.
When it comes to establishing the freedom to marry of a person who has previously attempted marriage, there aren't invalid marriages that need to be declared null before the persons attempting them are declared to be free to marry in the eyes of the Church and invalid marriages that don't need this. There are invalid marriages for which nullity can only be established by a tribunal, sometimes requiring witnesses to establish the facts, and invalid marriages for which a defect in form makes the fact of nullity a much more straightforward thing to demonstrate.
A marriage is valid until declared otherwise by the Church, just as suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty. It doesn't mean that suspects are in fact innocent until proven guilty or that those never tried must not be guilty, only that suspects enjoy that presumption. Likewise with invalid marriages: they aren't valid one day and invalid the next. They're either valid from the start or invalid from the start, even though there are certain kinds of invalidity that are clear from first principles and others that only show themselves clearly later.
The Church will not investigate a marriage until the marriage is dissolved in the eyes of the state, whether by annulment or divorce. A person who is married in the eyes of the state is not free to marry as far as the Church is concerned, anyway, and so the Church wisely avoids commiting alienation of affection by intervening any earlier. Until such a time, an attempted marriage enjoys the presumption of validity, even if its invalidity is as plain as the nose on anyone's face. Again, it is like the suspect accused of a crime. He may have been caught red-handed, but he is still entitled to his day in court.