This is how I do it.
datetime coming out of an SQL DB in the format of “2009-12-02 20:52:50”
// First get your date and pass it through the string to time function
$datetime = strtotime($appraisal['appraisal_accepted']);
// then format it in the standard php date fashion to something more pleasing to the eye - in this case "02/12/2009 8:52 PM"
$appraisal_accepted = date("d/m/Y g:i A", $datetime);