From a reader…
I was Baptized Catholic, but my mother stopped practicing when I was 5. I have been married and divorced in a Protestant ceremony, no priest or deacon was present (a myriad of protestant ministers, of varying qualifications, were involved). I am considering re-converting to the Church, but I fear an annulment might not be possible. I am only 23, and I was very young when I entered into marriage (18) with a man that obviously was not committed to the sacrament. Am I considered a Catholic due to my Baptism, making it an invalid union? Or should I seek an annulment otherwise?
Please sit down and talk with your local pastor or call the diocesan Tribunal and ask for direction. It’s difficult to make calls on situations like this over the internet, since there may be nuances that need to be attended to.
However, based on what you wrote, it seems that your first marriage is invalid.
As a baptized Catholic, you were bound to marry in the Catholic Church. In canonical circles, this is referred to as an issue of “canonical form”, that is, getting married with a qualified priest or deacon as witness. All Catholics, by baptism, are bound to observe canonical form when they marry. You were baptized Catholic. You married outside the Church. That marriage is therefore invalid.
That said, sit down with your local pastor or call the Tribunal and ask for advice.