Yes, Tribunals around the world and even within individual countries vary dramatically in their harshness or generosity. Pope Benedict has recently issued warnings regarding Tribunals not conforming strictly to the requirements of Canon Law, and Pope John Paul II had done the same. There is special concern about the USA which produces 75% of all declarations of nullity each year.
There have been some cases in which a local declaration of nullity has been overturned by Rome. A case that attracted media coverage in the USA was that of Congressman Joe Kennedy whose marriage to Sheila Rauch Kennedy was declared a nullity by the Boston Tribunal in 1996. She wrote a book, âShattered Faithâ, denouncing what she saw as corruption in the annulment process. Joe Kennedy had âremarriedâ in 1991 (but not in a Roman Catholic Church). The Roman Rota (effectively a court of appeal) reversed the decision of the Boston Tribunal in 2005, but did not inform Sheila Rauch Kennedy until 2007. This means that Joe Kennedy (in the eyes of the Church) remains married to Sheila Rauch Kennedy and not to the woman he says is his âsecond wifeâ.
The issue of Anglican Orders, although often raised by Anglicans, is irrelevant. A significant difference between Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy is that the former recognizes marriages solemnized by non-Catholic clergy or by lay celebrants. In sacramental terms, for Rome the ministers of the Sacrament of Marriage are the couple themselves, not the Priest. He is present only as a witness and for the purpose of blessing the marriage. Roman Canon Law provides for the contraction of a valid marriage without the assistance of a Priest (e.g. Canon 1112.1) and civil or non-Catholic marriages would be generally recognised in the case of non-Catholics.
For Orthodoxy, the minister of the Sacrament of Marriage is the Priest without whom no sacramental Marriage can occur (allowing for some rare exceptions under the principle of Economy).
So, Orthodox Canon Law is to some degree simpler than Roman Catholic Canon Law in this regard. If the marriage was not of two baptised Orthodox Christians and celebrated by a Priest, no marriage exists in Orthodox Canon Law. Roman Tribunals have to investigate complex aspects of non-Catholic and civil marriages, and of details of any form of Baptism received by non-Catholic parties.