No matter what your legal issue may be, it is always best to seek legal help early in the process. An attorney can help secure what is likely to be the best possible outcome for your situation and avoid both unnecessary complications or errors.
An experienced lawyer should be able to communicate a basic "road map" on how to proceed. The lawyer should be able to walk you through the anticipated process, key considerations, and potential pitfalls to avoid. Once you've laid out the facts of your situation to the lawyer, he/she should be able to frame expectations and likely scenarios to help you understand your legal issue.
In general, how much an attorney costs will often depend on these four factors: billing method and pricing structure, type of legal work performed, law firm prestige, and attorney experience. Depending on the legal issue you are facing, an attorney may bill you by the hour, settle on a flat fee, or enter into a contingency fee agreement. The type of legal work you need help with will also play a role in cost incurred.