You should definitely hire competent legal counsel to help in this matter. I am unfamiliar with California law, but if the Court orders the amount you pay each month to be reduced, I dont see where that could be a problem. I do not know if the interest rate can be changed as that is probably the "legal rate" as defined in your state.
The clerk is incorrect. A motion can filed with the court to re-determine arrears. I assume this is the motion you have already filed? You state "a court case coming up", what is the nature of this proceeding?
Be ready to present evidence that the arrears was calculated incorrectly. If you request the interest owed be reduced and the garnish amount be reduced, be sure to have evidence on hand to support your inability to pay support arrears in light of your current expenses. The fact that those expenses include putting your son through college should help your position if that son is also the son the arrears is related to.
Despite the fact that it is self-serving, I always suggest retaining an attorney. There are many benefits to having an attorney represent you in matters like these. I practice in Sacramento and would welcome the opportunity to discuss this further with you.
I am licensed in California only and my answers on Avvo assume California law. Answers provided by me are for general information only. They are not legal advice or counsel. Answers must not be relied upon. Legal advice and counsel must be based on the interplay between specific exact facts and the law. This forum does not allow for the discussion of that interplay. My answer to any specific question would likely be different if that interplay were explored during an attorney-client relationship. I provide legal advice and counsel during the course of an attorney-client relationship only. The exchange of information through this forum does not establish such a relationship. That relationship is established only by personal and direct consultation with me followed by the execution of a written attorney-client agreement signed by each of us. The communications on this website are not privileged or confidential and I assume no duty to anyone by my participation on Avvo or because I have answered or commented on a question. All legal proceedings involve deadlines and time limiting statutes. So that legal rights are not lost for failure to timely take appropriate action and because I do not provide legal advice or counsel in answer to any question, if you are an interested party you should promptly and personally consult with an attorney for advice and counsel. Also, see Avvo's terms and conditions of use, specifically item 9, incorporated by this reference
Unfortunately, California law specifically prohibits abatement of support arrears AND the interest owed thereon by a judge. If the money is owed to welfare arrears, the State of California has a Compromise of Arrears Program that may help in reducing the amount payable. If the money is owed to the custodial parent, he/she may waive any or all of the amount of support and interest owed through a stipulation approved in court. Since both parents generally feel responsible to support a college education, the custodial parent may be willing to waive in exchange for the payment of the college education. You should consult with a qualified attorney because the amount of principal and interest owed may not always be accurate. A qualified attorney can help review the orders to make sure the support is being charged accurately.