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string to date via custom field WP 3

Refael asked
Last Modified: 2012-05-11

I am posting a date as a string via the custom fields to a post in wordpress 3.0.
So i simply input in the custom filed something like this:

March 19, 2011

i need to compare this string date to the current date to check if the custom field date is greater, less or equal to execute/display different title.

i am a newbie to php so i i can only write the IF statement but have no clue how to convert the string to a date format that the computer can understand and then to compare these two dates.

please help?
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