Composite multiferroic systems, consisting of a piezoelectric substrate coupled with a ferromagnetic thin film, are of great interest from a technological point of view since they offer a path towards the development of ultra-low power magnetoelectric devices. The key aspect of those systems is the possibility to control magnetization via an electric field, relying on the magneto-elastic coupling at the interface between the piezoelectric and the ferromagnetic components. Accordingly, a direct measurement of both the electrically induced magnetic behavior and of the piezo-strain driving such behavior is crucial for better understanding and further developing these materials systems. In this work, we measure and characterize the micron-scale strain and magnetic response, as a function of an applied electric field, in a composite multiferroic system, composed of 1 and 2 µm squares of Ni fabricated on a pre-poled [Pb(Mg1/3Nb2/3)O3]0.69-[PbTiO3]0.31 (PMN-PT) single crystal substrate, by X-ray microdiffraction and X-ray photoemission electron microscopy, respectively. These two complementary measurements of the same area on the sample indicate the presence of a non-uniform strain which strongly influences the reorientation of the magnetic state within identical Ni microstructures along the surface of the sample. Micromagnetic simulations confirm these experimental observations. This study emphasizes the critical importance of surface and interface engineering on the micron-scale in composite multiferroic structures and introduces a robust method to characterize future devices on these length scales.