I am rather confused about what constitutes a valid marriage in the Church. My original understanding had been that the Church recognises all legal forms of marriage as valid and therefore if one got divorced and wanted to remarry an annulment would be necessary.
Recently I read, however, that in order for a marriage to be considered sacramentally valid for a Catholic they have to get married by a priest or have special dispensation from a bishop.
The reason I want to clarify this is because my boyfriend was previously married. We are both Catholics and have been since birth. He got married very young in a civil ceremony with no religious involvement and this was never blessed by the Church. His marriage is now in the process of being legally dissolved but I am not sure whether he needs to apply for an annulment as well.
I think he certainly has grounds for an annulment: he felt pressured into marriage because he got his ex-wife pregnant and was too scared to refuse to go through with it as he was very young even though they hardly knew each other.
It’s important to me that if we get married we can do so properly in the Church and so I would be very grateful if anyone understands this doctrine better than I do!