In California, creditors can garnish up to 25 percent of an individual's disposable income or an individual's wages that are greater than 40 times the minimum wage, whichever is less, advises Nolo. As of 2014, California's minimum wage rate is $9 per hour, states California's Department of Industrial Relations.
California provides greater protection for workers' wages than federal garnishment laws. Under federal law, creditors can garnish 25 percent of disposable income or an individual's wages greater than 30 times minimum wage, states Nolo.
In most cases, creditors must get a court order to garnish wages in California for debts such as credit cards or medical bills. Some debts, including child support, defaulted student loans and taxes, can be collected through wage garnishment without a court order, advises Nolo.
After an employer receives notice of wage garnishment, the individual has up to 10 days to file a request for exemption to exclude certain income from wage garnishment, states the Sacramento County Public Law Library. Some income types that are exempt from garnishment include social security income, public assistance and funds from charities. Many public pensions and retirement plans are also exempt.
Some things are exempt up to a certain dollar amount. For example, equity in artwork and jewelry owned by the individual is exempt up to $6,075, states the Sacramento County Public Law Library. Pieces exceeding that amount may be garnished and sold.