I am having a hard time reconciling the Church's position regarding divorce and annulments. I understand what an annulment is, so I don't want this to turn into a discussion about defining what a valid sacramental marriage is.
My problem is that the Church teaches that divorce is wrong and unacceptable, but then they (at least in the US) require Catholics to get a civil divorce before seeking an annulment. Shouldn't it be the other way around? If someone feels like their marriage is invalid, shouldn't they be able to have the Tribunal decide that before they file for a civil divorce? I mean, if the Church decided your marriage was sacramentally valid first, then wouldn't you think fewer Catholics actually go forward with a civil divorce?