Q: Does my child have to go to their father if something happens to me?
State of Oregon.
I am worried that if anything were to happen to me my child would go to their father. He has not been a part of their life but will not sign his rights over. I am married and my s/o has been here since before my child was born. Is there a legal way to make my child’s step parent the guardian without needing to adopt?
You can certainly nominate your husband to be the guardian and state some information in the nomination that will help the court know why. As your husband has had a significant role in your child's life he would qualify as a psychological parent and could petition the court to grant custody in the event that you should die. https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/109.119 The court would ultimately decide who should get custody so there is no way to guarantee that your husband will retain custody. But under the facts you have described where the biological father has had no contact, odds are good for your husband.
What you can also do is make sure your husband controls any money that you might leave to your child by setting up a trust and naming your husband as trustee. Take out a life insurance policy that pays out to the trust you set up for your child and put your husband in charge with another person named as an alternate trustee who is not the father of your child. Specify that the trust funds can be used to pay legal fees that your husband or another relative may incur fighting to get custody of your child. You want to keep your child's money out of the hands of the absentee father.
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