We do not have the concept of an Annulment in the same way the Catholics do, but rather we have an 'annulment' for marriage in the way we have an 'annulment' for any sacrament that is not validly performed.
... except that's exactly the basis of an annulment, more or less. To be precise, there are failures of form and failures of external conditions (if you really want to know the actual RC rules, start here
Interestingly, NY state law distinguishes between annulments and being "void ab initio". I don't think anything is ever "automatically" annulled. The only thing that is automatic is the refusal to recognize something. For instance, in the episcopal elevation case, the refusal to recognize it is what in practice demonstrates its invalidity.
And in practice, it is the present state of no-fault divorce that allows the church to have these sorts of "annulments". This review of divorce law from California
, for instance, does not list differences of religious faith as grounds for divorce; nor were they ever grounds for civil annulments in the USA. Therefore, in the USA church annulments of religiously invalid marriages were dead letters until it was possible to obtain civil divorces without cause, because the parties were not actually free to marry until a civil divorce were obtained.
I do not believe that the following statement is entirely true:
Preforming of the Sacrament itself (deposed priest, non-Orthodox Receiving Sacrament (except Baptism and Chrismation), et cetera). While not consumating the marriage, impotence, refusal of one spouse to have Children, insanity, et cetera may be regarded as reasons for a divorce, if the ceremony itself was validly celebrated (i.e. celebrated by a valid priest, between two Orthodox Christians, or One Orthodox Christian and one Heterodox with the prior Approval of the Bishop, couple of opposite sex, with the Priest intending to marry the Couple (lack of intent to marry by one of the two being married can be cause for divorce, but not annulment, as the priest is the minister of the sacrament)) an annulment is not possible.
The thing is, when one looks at the concrete
grounds for annulment-- particularly those recognized in civil
law-- the most important have to do with fraud or force. For instance: what if the bride is forced into marriage through the threat of violence? What would an Orthodox church actually
do in such a case?There was a passage at this point which was actually authored by GiC.
As far as the argument against the couple being the ministers, I don't think a strict opposition to this is plausible. One can argue that more than the couple are needed, but the participation of the couple is surely essential, and therefore, the real consent of the couple is in practice surely needed; otherwise, it would be possible to marry any random couple without respect to their intent.
I agree that the Roman practice of annulments is legalistic, but as ECUSA practice shows, one can have the theory without the annulments. Here
, btw, is a summary of how it works. Also, it is true that some Orthodox churches do "grant" annulments, e.g. as referred to in these ACROD guidelines
Annulments ought to be simply the certification (i.e., the official recognition) of a marriage that was defectively carried out. When such invalidity is recognized-- and everyone does so-- annulments are "granted", whether through formal means or not. The problem is with annulments which are used to legalize what are really divorces.