I posted a comment on somebody’s blog regarding the annulment process.
There is a common misunderstanding surrounding the annulment process. People will often use a phrase like this: “…granting an annulment.” That’s not quite right, as the Church does not grant an annulment–she does not undo the vows of the wedding.
Upon request (and only upon request) the Church will investigate to see if a marriage actually happened. She will ask a lot of questions and gather testimony surrounding the couple’s relationship prior to the wedding, and on the wedding day. She will also consider evidence post-wedding, but the wedding and pre-wedding are more important. The existence of a civil marriage license is not enough evidence to determine if a marriage actually happened in God’s sight. Other things have to line up. If the Church determines that an important element of what makes a marriage is missing, she will declare this fact by issuing a document called a Decree of Nullity. This is a finding of fact: there was no marriage in God’s sight to begin with. It is not that the Church undoes the wedding vows, as somebody might undo a knot. It is that there was never a knot to begin with. That is an important distinction, because the Church takes Jesus’ words in Matthew 19 literally. Nobody can undo a marriage knot. But if there was no knot to begin with, then the person is free to marry. If there was a knot, then the person is not free to marry per Matthew 19.
This is approximately what I said, although the analogy of the knot just came to me as I was writing this.