The best way to get out of a bad situation is to first see yourself getting out of it.
1) Be extremely selective when searching for an attorney. Use recommendations from your friends and family. Find online reviews if needed. Key qualities are someone who you can relate with, organization, articulate and hard working. Next, sit with your initial counsel for a free 30-min (don’t pay for this) first to understand if he/she is a good fit. Personally, I think there’s some amount of an advantage to hiring a good looking woman to represent.
2) Attorney’s generally charge for every 5 to 8 minutes of counsel. A couple considerations here: a) Be prepared before you spend any time with him/her, i.e. write out your questions beforehand, 2) do the grunt work yourself, e.g. file for divorce without an attorney. You can even script emails or motions and just have your attorney edit as needed.
3) Once you’ve retained an attorney, all communications and court filings must be done through the attorney vs. you. Keep this in mind as this definitely plays into the cost.
4) If you’ve retained counsel, expect your divorce to cost a minimum of $15,000. The more motions and hearings (typically around $1,500 each) and the more due diligence and discovery required, the higher the cost. Many contested divorces reach the $100K+ range.