What is the difference , in terms of its legal definition and practical consequences, for when a judge (family court magistrate) "orders" vs "directs" a party to do something?
Is it akin to the difference between a command ("Clean your room now, or else you're grounded!") and a request ("Please clean up your room"), between consequences and none?
No, they are both orders and the failure to do what was directed or ordered could be contempt of court
There is no difference. The person against whom the directive/order is addressed must fulfill the requirements of either.
It really depends on the context in which the "direction" is made. Generally a party is only required to do something if that something is reduced to a court order. As such, if a Support Magistrate directs you to, say, set aside money for college, but same isn't in a court order, then it's just a suggestion, but you haven't been ordered to do so (subject to contempt proceedings if you fail to do so). I'd suggest to bring in your specific context to a NYC Child Support lawyer for a full assessment.
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